Prince Harry and other celebrities can proceed with their case against the Daily Mail’s publisher, a British judge ruled on Friday, paving the way for a lengthy court battle over phone hacking and other alleged violations of privacy.
The lawsuit, against Associated Newspapers Limited, the publisher of The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, is one of three privacy suits that Harry has filed against publishers of British tabloids.
Harry, the singer Elton John, the actresses Sadie Frost and Elizabeth Hurley and other plaintiffs argue that Associated Newspapers obtained confidential information dating to 1993 through illicit means, including intercepting their voice mail messages, listening to live calls and obtaining private medical and financial information.
Associated Newspapers sought to have the case thrown out on the grounds that the claims, which related to alleged wrongdoing decades ago, were brought too late.
Harry and the other plaintiffs, who also include Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a Black teenager who was murdered in a racist attack, and David Furnish, Mr. John’s husband, argued that their claims were valid, saying that facts relevant to their claims were deliberately concealed, so the limitation period did not begin until the plaintiffs discovered the concealment.
In the ruling, Justice Matthew Nicklin said Associated Newspapers “has not been able to deliver a ‘knockout blow’ to the claims of any of these claimants.”
Associated Newspapers, which denies the allegations, has mostly avoided the lawsuits and large settlements that other British tabloids have paid out over phone-hacking allegations. Associated Newspapers, in a statement on Friday, said that “the lurid claims made by Prince Harry and others of phone-hacking, landline-tapping, burglary and sticky-window microphones are simply preposterous and we look forward to establishing this in court in due course.”
Harry, known formally as the Duke of Sussex, has two other ongoing privacy lawsuits that concern the publisher of The Mirror and the publisher of The Sun.
In June, he became the first senior member of the royal family to testify in court in modern times, accusing Mirror Group reporters of intercepting his voice mail messages and using other unlawful means to dig up information about him more than a decade ago. The verdict in that trial is expected soon.
Harry’s suit against News Group Newspapers, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and is the publisher of The Sun, alleges that the organization illegally obtained information including his medical records, in addition to phone hacking. News Group in 2012 reached financial settlements with several dozen high profile victims of phone-hacking and email hacking.
Hugh Grant, who has campaigned against press intrusion, said in a statement on Friday that the ruling was a significant blow to the Daily Mail. Mr. Grant noted that in 2012, the then-editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, had described his testimony against the tabloid as “mendacious smears.”
“I am pleased that a judge will now decide whether similar allegations made by Prince Harry, Baroness Lawrence, Sir Elton John and others are also mendacious smears or whether the mendacity lies with the other side,” he said.
The next hearing in Harry’s case against Associated Newspapers is scheduled to take place on Nov. 21.