Royal News

How Much Prince Harry May Make From Lawsuit if He Wins

Prince Harry’s crunch lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s media empire will likely earn him up to $250,000—a fraction of the sums awarded in some high-profile U.S. celebrity lawsuits, a lawyer told Newsweek.

The Duke of Sussex believes journalists for U.K. newspaper The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World broke the law to get stories about his private life. Harry is suing the publisher, News Group Newspapers [NGN], at the High Court in London.

A trial is scheduled for January 2025, and lawyers for the two sides were in court last week after a disagreement about the disclosure of documents and evidence.

Prince Harry and The Sun
Prince Harry is seen alongside ‘The Sun’ newspaper in a composite image. The royal has accused the tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch, of breaking the law in its past efforts to get stories about his… 

Following the hearing, Harry’s team were ordered to pay costs of around £130,000 [$164,000], though the lawyers plan to dispute the figure, BBC News reported.

The substantial sum brings into sharp focus how little Harry may stand to gain financially from a flurry of 10 lawsuits he and Meghan have filed, which have brought checkered results.

However, Mark Stephens, of U.K. law firm Howard Kennedy, said he felt the duke was not doing it for the money.

“I think the maximum he’ll get if he wins [the NGN case] is in the £100,000 to £200,000 range [around $125,000 to $250,000],” Stephens told Newsweek.

The figure may appear small, compared to the sums of money awarded high-profile U.S. lawsuits such as the defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard; he was awarded $15 million in damages and she, $2 million in damages. Stephens said, though, that Harry is “in it for the principle,” not the payday.

Friday’s hearing saw lawyers for NGN accuse Harry of deliberately deleting evidence they argue could have helped answer a key question at the heart of the case.

Harry says journalists hired private investigators to unlawfully obtain private information about the prince and his associates, including ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy.

The company is contesting his allegations but also says he left it too late to lodge his case, which should have been filed within a six-year time limit on privacy lawsuits.

Some of the stories Harry has complained about date back as far as the 1990s, but the prince said he could not have realized he was a victim at the time they were published because the company covered its tracks.

NGN’s lawyers argue that the early drafts of his book Spare and messages sent with his ghost writer J.R. Moehringer could have given an insight into when Harry first realized he might have been a victim. However, they have been deleted.

Judge Timothy Fancourt ordered Harry to produce a witness statement explaining how the messages came to be deleted and asked for further searches to be conducted.

Stephens, though, felt it smacked of a fishing expedition by the newspaper group, and said it was “very unlikely” it would have an impact on the final outcome of the case “in the absence of direct evidence.”

“It sounds a bit of a stretch to me, and I would have thought for privacy reasons he would have deleted all the drafts and everything,” Stephens said.

“The point is, this is kind of speculative. There’s no evidence he did actually know before the date he said. It’s a sort of fishing thing.

“I find it very difficult to see how this is relevant to whether unlawful methods were used. That’s the difficulty I have here,” Stephens added.

“It seems that this is something of a distraction. Either they did or they did not use unlawful methods, and when he knew about that is kind of collateral.”

Meanwhile, Harry’s lawyers said in a court filing, seen by Newsweek: “NGN’s tactical and sluggish approach to disclosure wholly undermines the deliberately sensational assertion that [Prince Harry] has not properly carried out the disclosure exercise.

“This is untrue. In fact, [Prince Harry] has already made clear that he has conducted extensive searches, going above and beyond his obligations.”

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