British tabloid Mail on Sunday published an article about Prince Harry that contained defamatory claims, a UK judge ruled on Friday.

Harry, the Duke of Sussex, sued The Mail on Sunday in February over a story in the newspaper which claimed that he lied about offering to pay for his own UK police protection.

The tabloid, a sister publication to the Daily Mail which is owned by Associated Newspapers Limited, wrote that Harry had tried to keep his legal battle with the British Home Office over his security arrangements a “secret.”

A judge on Friday found that the story inflicted “serious damage to his reputation and substantial hurt, embarrassment and distress, which is continuing,” according to an ITV dispatch cited by The Hollywood Reporter.

“It may be possible to ‘spin’ facts in a way that does not mislead, but the allegation being made in the article was very much that the object was to mislead the public,” the judge is quoted as saying.

“That supplies the necessary element to make the meanings defamatory at common law.”

Harry had petitioned the UK government to provide year-round official security for him, wife Meghan Markle, and their two young children.

The family has signaled that it would foot the bill for the security arrangements, but it nonetheless sought to arrange the detail through the Home Office.

Harry successfully sued the Mail on Sunday, which is the sister publication of the tabloid Daily Mail.
Harry successfully sued the Mail on Sunday, which is the sister publication of the tabloid Daily Mail.
Getty Images

Harry’s lawyers have claimed that the security risks are too great for the family to return to the UK.

This is the second time in the last 16 months that a Sussex has won a court case against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, won her court case against Associated Newspapers in February of last year after the Mail on Sunday printed parts of her handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.

Meghan wrote the five-page letter to Markle after their relationship collapsed in the run-up to her glittering wedding to Harry in May 2018, which her father missed due to ill health and after he admitted posing for paparazzi pictures.

Last year, Meghan Markle won her own lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday.
Last year, Meghan Markle won her own lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The paper argued the duchess intended the letter’s contents to become public and it formed part of a media strategy, pointing out she had admitted in court papers discussing it with her communications secretary.

The Mail, which published extracts in February 2019, said it did so to allow Markle to respond to comments made by Meghan’s anonymous friends in interviews with People magazine.

Meghan and Harry’s relations with Britain’s tabloid press collapsed after they got married, with media intrusion a major factor in their decision to step down from royal duties in 2020 and move to the United States with baby son Archie.

The couple have said they would have “zero engagement” with four papers, including the Daily Mail, accusing them of false and invasive coverage.



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Tyler Cowan