Harry's Lawyers Say Tabloid Framed Him as 'Lying, Spinning Manipulator'

Prince Harry's lawyers have accused The Mail on Sunday of falsely presenting him as a "lying, spinning manipulator"—while the U.K. tabloid argued his legal team's statement was "confusing and inaccurate."

The Duke of Sussex sued for libel just days after an exclusive February article suggesting a statement from his legal team had been misleading.

Lawyers for the two sides have been at the High Court, in London, arguing over the meaning of the Mail's story during a preliminary hearing on Thursday, June 9. The newspaper also argued the case should be thrown out, a court filing shows.

The Mail on Sunday story carried the headline: Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret ... then—just minutes after the story broke—his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.

A court filing by Harry's team, seen by Newsweek, read: "In the readers' eyes, [Harry] has been revealed to be a lying, spinning manipulator, willing to put out an 'inaccurate version of events' after his improper attempt to keep his case secret failed."

The dispute relates to a second lawsuit Harry filed against the U.K. government over the Home Office decision to remove his police protection.

The Mail's story suggested a January statement from Harry's team sought to put a "positive spin" on the case after initial failed attempts to keep at least some details of it secret.

The January statement by Harry's team read: "The Duke first offered to pay personally for U.K. police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham. That offer was dismissed. He remains willing to cover the cost of security, as not to impose on the British taxpayer."

Harry and Meghan With Police Protection
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a walkabout in Auckland, New Zealand, on October 30, 2018. Harry sued the Home Office over the decision to remove his police protection. Phil Walter/Getty Images

However, the newspaper argued a Home Office court filing revealed that the offer to pay had not been made at two other stages.

Harry's lawyers said it amounts to an allegation that he lied and manipulated, while the newspaper argued it was simply suggesting PR spin and a positive gloss.

The duke's filing said: "From the opening paragraphs, the scene is set: the reader is being led to believe that [Harry] has been up to something improper, trying (a) to hide it and (b) then to 'spin' (ie. manipulate) it leading to 'inaccurate reports across the media' which mislead the public."

The newspaper's lawyers wrote in their own court filing that its article "does allege that the messages emanating from [Harry's] legal and PR advisers were confusing and inaccurate and led to inaccurate media coverage.

"Such statements are made on [Harry's] behalf. [Harry] is said to be committed to accuracy online.

"A reader might infer that he had been insufficiently vigilant, but even that is a stretch, having due regard to the timeframe, the fact that legal advisers in particular could be expected to accurately summarise what the claim is for and no such allegation is expressly made."

The Mail's court filing asked Judge Matthew Nicklin to dismiss the case.

The judge is yet to rule on the applications under discussion.

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