Confidential documents being deployed by Prince Harry and others in their privacy case against the Mail were obtained in breach of orders made by the Leveson Inquiry, the High Court was told yesterday.
Copies of financial ledgers from the publisher of the Mail titles were given to the 2011/12 inquiry into Press standards.
Under the protocol of the Leveson Inquiry, the documents were treated as confidential and the chairman, Lord Justice Leveson, made an order that no documents such as these provided to the inquiry ‘shall be published or disclosed’.
But the accounts ledgers were passed to lawyers acting for the Duke of Sussex, Baroness Lawrence and other public figures who are now trying to use them to allege the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail paid people to steal their private information, which it vehemently denies.
The Mail is objecting to the confidential documents being used in this case, contending they breach the ‘restriction order’ made by Lord Justice Leveson under the Inquiries Act 2005 which ‘binds all persons’.
Prince Harry arrives at the High Court yesterday
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, arrives at the High Court in London
Baroness Doreen Lawrence arrives at the High Court yesterday
David Sherborne, barrister for the claimants, was also at the Leveson Inquiry, where he acted for various celebrities including Hugh Grant, and where he also signed a ‘personal written undertaking’ to Lord Justice Leveson that he would ‘not disclose, publish or use the documents’.
Yesterday, on day two of a High Court hearing, Harry watched from the back of the court as his barrister argued he should now be allowed to use the confidential information to help his clients’ case. He was challenged by Mr Justice Nicklin, who suggested Mr Sherborne was bound by his own confidentiality undertakings to the Leveson Inquiry. The judge put it to the barrister: ‘You’ve got no answer because you have undertaken to protect the confidentiality of these documents.’
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers said that just because information from the ledgers had been published online in 2017 ‘does not relieve those who entered into the undertaking from their obligations’.
Mr Justice Nicklin has not yet decided on the Mail’s application.