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Prince Harry says 'libellous' article left former marines 'susceptible to suicide'

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read

Watch: Prince Harry to sue Mail On Sunday publisher over ‘libellous’ news article

Prince Harry’s lawyers have said an article about him turning his back on Royal Marines would have made veterans more susceptible to suicide, in new court papers.

Harry, 36, is suing the publishers of the Mail On Sunday, Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), over an article they wrote in October which said he had turned his back on the Marines after leaving the UK.

Papers filed in court show his lawyers will be arguing that the article is libellous and affected his ability to help former soldiers.

They also say it made them more susceptible to suicide.

Harry’s lawyers filed the papers at the end of 2020, before the Mail On Sunday printed an apology to him over the article.

The statement in the Mail On Sunday read: “We now understand that Harry has been in contact in a private capacity with individuals in the military including in the Royal Marines to offer informal support since March.

“We apologise to Prince Harry and have made a donation to the Invictus Games Foundation.”

However there is likely to be a request for a statement in open court to close off the case.

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Captain General Royal Marines, visits 42 Commando Royal Marines at their base in Bickleigh to carry out a Green Beret presentation at Dartmoor National Park on February 20, 2019 in Plymouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Prince Harry, when he was Captain General Royal Marines, at 42 Commando Royal Marines at their base in Bickleigh in February 2019. (Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

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Meghan Markle, Harry’s wife, ended her case against Splash News and Pictures in the UK in a similar way last year, after they went into administration soon after she announced plans to sue them over pictures of her with son Archie in Canada.

Harry’s team also claims he was not given enough time to respond to the allegations, with an email only being sent from the Mail On Sunday around 9pm, three hours before the first version of the story appeared online.

However, the Mail On Sunday is one of the papers that Harry and Meghan warned they would have nothing more to do with in spring 2020, when they cut off several tabloids and told their team not to engage with them.

The Daily Telegraph said papers showed the duke was “personally affronted” by the article in the Mail On Sunday, and that his reputation is “inextricably tied up with” the military.

His team suggested that damaging that reputation might stop some veterans accessing the help they need for mental health issues, something he has urged them to do.

They added: “The publications complained of diminish the claimant’s credibility in the eyes of such personnel and therefore make them less likely to seek the help being offered.

“The claimant reasonably fears that this will in turn have devastating effects upon such individuals, including leaving them more susceptible to suicide.”

Harry was Captain General of the Royal Marines but the honorary title was stripped when he decided to step back from his role as a senior royal in March 2020.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is also suing ANL in a separate legal battle, over its decision to print sections of a letter she wrote to her father after her wedding to the prince.

Her case is next due in front of the court on 19 January, when Mr Justice Warby will decide if it can be heard by summary judgement.

That would take away the need for a trial, so she, her friends and her father would not have to appear in the witness box.

Watch: Prince Harry’s Apple TV series delayed