Prince Harry and Elton John are among six public figures to sue the publisher of the Daily Mail, accusing the British tabloid of obtaining information about them illegally, their lawyers said on Thursday.
The group “became aware of compelling and extremely distressing evidence that they had been the victims…of gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), the lawyers said.
Alongside Prince Harry and Elton John are also the singer’s husband David Furnish, actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost as well as Doreen Lawrence, the mother of young Briton Stephen Lawrence victim of a racist murder in 1993.
The latter has also taken legal action against the group of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, which notably publishes the tabloid The Sun.
According to the lawyers of the six plaintiffs, ANL would have employed private detectives to wiretap, in their car or at their home, the six personalities.
They also claim that payments were made to police “with corrupt ties to private investigators” to obtain information, that medical data was “obtained by deception” and that bank accounts and financial information were accessible “by illicit means and manipulation”.
“We totally and unequivocally refute these grotesque defamations which appear to be nothing more than a planned and orchestrated attempt to drag Mail headlines into the wiretapping scandal over 30-year-old articles,” responded ANL.
The British tabloid press was shaken about ten years ago by several scandals of illegal wiretapping practiced from the beginning of the 2000s.
At the start of the case in 2005, it was about tapping the voicemails of collaborators of Princes William and Harry, but the emotion had peaked in the summer of 2011 when the tabloid News of the World had listened to the voicemail of a missing and eventually found dead schoolgirl, Milly Dowler.
The revelations had led to the disaster closure of the Sunday tabloid of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who had paid two million pounds to the family of Milly Dowler in an amicable settlement.
While many personalities have sued tabloids after being tapped, this is the first time that such lawsuits have targeted the publisher of the Daily Mail.