The article was still available on the newspaper’s site in February. The headline read: “Exclusive. How Prince Harry tried keep his legal fight against the government over police guards a secret… then he tried to put a positive spin onto the dispute – just minutes following the story broke.”
Lawyers for Harry argued in a written statement that the piece suggested Harry had “lied” or “improperly, cynically tried [to manipulate and confuse the public opinion]”, according to PA Media. ANL Barristers rejected the allegations and said that the article was clear of any impropriety.
Justice Matthew Nicklin was called to the preliminary hearing to determine the meaning of the article in its “natural and ordinal” form and decide if it was defamatory.
Friday’s judge ruled that portions of the article were defamatory. The judge’s decision is not the final stage of the case. The publisher will now be required to defend the matter.
Nicklin pointed out that the article would have led readers believe that Prince Harry “was responsible” for trying to mislead the public about the truth. This was ironic considering that he is now a public figure in the fight against’misinformation’.
Nicklin claimed in his judgment that a person reading the article would believe that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was responsible for public statements that were made on his behalf. They claimed that he was willing pay for UK police protection. He also stated that he was challenging the Government’s refusal to allow him to do so. The truth was, however, revealed by documents filed in the legal proceeding.
Nicklin said, “It might be possible to’spin’ facts in a manner that doesn’t mislead. However, the allegation in the Article stated very clearly that the object being made was to mislead people.” “That is the element that makes the meanings of common law defamatory.”
Nicklin explained that the next step is for the defendant, to file a defense to the claim. It will come down to later proceedings whether or not the claim succeeds and, if so, what the basis.
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