London, Feb 1 (PTI) Britain’s Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has accepted an apology and “substantial” damages from Associated Newspapers over the publication of what he described as “baseless, false and defamatory stories” about him in the ‘Mail on Sunday’ and 'MailOnline', the High Court in London heard on Monday.
The 36-year-old grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, who stepped back from frontline royal duties last year, had sued the newspaper group for libel over two 'almost identical' articles published in October 2020, which claimed he had snubbed the Royal Marines after his royal exit.
'The baseless, false and defamatory stories published in the ‘Mail on Sunday’ and on the website ‘MailOnline’ constituted not only a personal attack upon the Duke's character but also wrongly brought into question his service to this country,' Jenny Afia, Harry’s lawyer, told the court in a remote hearing.
She said that Associated Newspapers had accepted the allegations were false, 'albeit after considerable damage was already done'.
The damages, the amount of which remains undisclosed, are being donated by the royal to the Invictus Games Foundation, the organisation behind Harry’s sporting venture for unwell and wounded war veterans.
Harry’s lawyer said this will allow the prince to 'feel something good had come out of the situation'.
The newspaper had published an apology in December 2020, but Harry's legal team believed it was not given the same prominence as the original articles and asked for permission for the settlement to be read out in open court.
In a separate statement after the hearing, a spokesperson for Harry – who himself served in the British Army in the past – said his commitment to the military community was 'unquestionable'.
Associated Newspapers is yet to make a statement following Monday's hearing.
Prince Harry's wife, Meghan Markle – the Duchess of Sussex, is in a separate ongoing court battle with the newspaper group over articles that reproduced parts of a private handwritten letter to her father. Associated Newspapers denies allegations of breach of copyright and maintains it will strongly contest the case. PTI AK NSA