The Duke of Sussex accused the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline of downplaying the seriousness of a mistake in a story about his relationship with the British armed forces, as the two sides formally settled a libel suit in a higher court.
Harry had sued Associated Newspapers for two articles published in October, which claimed he had snubbed the Royal Marines and “had not been in contact … since his last appearance as an honorary Marine in March,” citing “informed sources.” .
On December 27, the Mail On Sunday published an apology, accepting that the Duke had been in contact with the Royal Marines and said he had made a donation to the foundation that runs the Duke’s Invictus Games.
Harry accepted an apology and “substantial damages” from Associated Newspapers for the “baseless, false and defamatory” allegations.
The settlement of the libel case comes with the Duchess of Sussex still in a court battle with the newspaper group.
Meghan is suing the Mail on Sunday, claiming it violated her privacy and copyright by publishing a letter she sent to her father Thomas Markle.
His attorneys are requesting a “summary judgment,” which would have part of his privacy case resolved without a trial.
While Harry’s claim against ANL is now settled, the Duchess of Sussex still on a collision course with the newspaper group in their high-profile privacy battle.
She is suing for the publication of a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, arguing that it was a privacy violation and violated his copyright.
Meghan has sought a summary trial, to gain a quick victory in the case, and if unsuccessful, she will face ANL in a Superior Court trial in the fall.
In a brief remote higher court hearing before Judge Nicklin on Monday in which the details of the lawsuit settlement were established, the duke’s attorney, Jenny Afia, said the apology, released before the final settlement of the settlement, “it used wording that minimized the seriousness of the accusations made” and “did not expressly acknowledge that the accusations were false.”
In a prepared statement, Afia also said that the apology “incorrectly stated that the defendant had made a donation to the Invictus Games Foundation.”
Afia said that while Associated Newspapers had offered to make a donation directly, Harry had decided to make a donation of the amount received in damages directly to the Invictus Games Foundation itself “so that he could feel that something good had come out of the situation” .
Although Afia acknowledged that the wording of the apology was agreed between the two parties, he said that “it does not represent, therefore, precisely what happened in this regard.”
A spokesman for the Duke of Sussex said Monday: “The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline publicly admitted in public hearing that they promoted a completely false and libelous story. And they have apologized for questioning the Duke of Sussex’s commitment to the Royal Marines and the British armed forces. “
The spokesperson said: “The truth is that the Duke’s commitment to the military community is unquestionable,” adding: “Unsurprisingly, the Mail again misled its readers in December by claiming that he was making a charitable donation as part of an initial apology. They did no such thing. The Duke is personally donating the important damages recovered from this legal resolution to the Invictus Games Foundation ”.
In documents filed with the superior court just before Christmas, the duke’s attorneys said Harry had been “personally offended” by items that had “caused great damage to his reputation.”
The Mail on Sunday article, published Oct. 25, claimed that the “exasperated top brass” were considering a replacement because Harry “has not communicated by phone, letter or email since his last appearance as an honorary Marine.”
He also alleged that the duke had not responded to a personal letter from Lord Dannatt, a former chief of the British army.
But Harry’s lawyers said in court documents that the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline “ignored the plaintiff’s reputations in their quest to publish a one-sided and thinly-researched article in pursuit of the imperative of selling newspapers and attracting readers to their website.
They also said the duke was “frustrated and saddened” as the articles would diminish his credibility with veterans and servicemen with mental health problems “and therefore are less likely to seek the help offered to them.”
Associated Newspapers has been contacted for comment.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism