Lawsuit Loss Could 'Undermine' Harry's Claims of Media Harm—Podcast

Prince Harry's latest lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday could "undermine" his narrative that "the media cause serious harm" if a judge finds that an article published by the newspaper claiming Harry "misled the public about his offer to pay for police protection" did not break the law. That's according to a discussion between chief royal correspondent Jack Royston and royal commentator Kristen Meinzer on the latest episode of Newsweek's The Royal Report podcast.

The prince has denied the claims made against him by the newspaper.

The discussion follows recent developments in Harry's case in which his lawyers requested a judge rule whether it passes the test of "serious harm." This would determine whether the prince was reputationally damaged by the published story to an extent that it caused serious harm and is key to winning the case.

Judge Matthew Nicklin stated in a court filing on April 26, seen by Newsweek: "I have refused to direct trial of the issue of serious harm.

"I appreciate that [Prince Harry's] case is one based (at this stage) solely upon inference, but ultimately this is an issue of fact."

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The denial of the early judgment request means that the trial will continue with the first round to be held after Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in June.

"This is Harry and Meghan's third lawsuit against the newspaper," Royston told Meinzer, "and it relates to a story published in February which accused the Duke of Sussex of misleading the public about his offer to pay for his police protection."

"Harry's lawyers say The Mail's story was false, unleashed a feeding frenzy of hostile comments and caused considerable distress and hurt," Meinzer added.

"Harry also claims the story constituted an attack on his honesty and integrity and undermined his fitness to be both involved in charitable and philanthropic work in general and in efforts to tackle online misinformation—in particular through the Archewell Foundation."

Meghan Markle Prince Harry Lawsuit Podcast
Prince Harry's lawsuit against a U.K newspaper could "undermine part of his narrative about the media" if he loses, Newsweek's "The Royal Report" podcast has discussed. Photographed March 23, 2018. Samir Hussein/WireImage

After the story was published, Harry instructed lawyers to file a lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday.

In order to win the case, Harry's team will have to prove that he has suffered serious harm reputationally as a result of the article which may lead to the prince having to disclose personal documents to the court.

"It's clear now that [the newspaper]... is going to fight this, and that means that he is going to have to get his head around what will happen when it goes to court" Royston noted.

"A lot of this is about what The Mail on Sunday was saying in the story...about Harry's PR operation, so if he starts having to put his whole PR machine into the public domain it might just start getting difficult for them."

In Royston's opinion the case could prove to be more of a negative for the prince than a positive, as if the judge rule in the newspaper's favor—that it did not cause serious harm—then the royal's narrative about the negative impact of the media could be called into question.

"My view on it personally," he told Meinzer, "is that this is not a hill to die on or even a hill to risk dying on...because ultimately where Prince Harry's reputation sits is the product of literally thousands of news stories of which this is just one. "

"If his decision to ask for [the court] to take an early view on whether he meets the serious harm test is an indication that his team aren't sure that it does" he continued, "...and his case was to fall based on a judge ruling that it doesn't constitute serious harm, then I think that could undermine part of his narrative about the media."

"Harry and Meghan's whole narrative about the media is that they cause serious harm so I kind of think, why risk an adverse ruling on a point that's so fundamental to the bigger narrative."

Harry and Meghan have filed two previous lawsuits against The Mail on Sunday, with the first being settled privately out of court and the second being won twice by Meghan over a letter written by her father being published without her permission, the initial judgment of which the newspaper appealed.

Harry's lawsuit with the newspaper is running alongside another with the U.K Home Office over the arrangements for his personal security, which he claims does not adequately protect himself or his family if they were to visit the country.

The prince, along with Meghan and their two children Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 11 months, announced last week that they will travel to the U.K for the central celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee.

The trip will provide Harry and Meghan with the opportunity to introduce their daughter to the 96-year-old monarch, after whom she was named.