Daily Mirror Facing $2M Legal Fee Bill After Prince Harry Phone Hack Case

The company that owns U.K. tabloid The Daily Mirror is reportedly facing a $2 million-plus payment of 100 claimants’ legal fees in the latest turn over a phone hacking case involving Prince Harry and others over five years ending in 2011.

On Dec. 15, the Duke of Sussex was awarded £140,600 ($178,255) by Justice Fancourt in the high court, who said there was “extensive” phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers from 2006 to 2011. Widespread illegal information gathering took place at all three Mirror Group titles — the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People — Fancourt declared, adding that private investigators had been an “integral part of the system” at the red top tabloids; the court found that 15 out of 33 Prince Harry-related articles it had so-far examined involved phone hacking.

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When the verdict was read, the judge named Piers Morgan, the top editor of the Mirror from 1995 to 2004, and other MGN execs as those who certainly knew about the invasive hacking. Morgan responded by saying he’s “never hacked a phone” while working as an editor or told anyone else to do so.

Following Prince Harry’s success in court last month, a group of “generic” claimants in the 100-plus-plaintiff phones hacking case now want their legal costs covered — to the tune of £2.15M ($2.72M); the group’s rep David Sherborne wrote to the court that £1.94M ($2.45M) will suffice, “to avoid unnecessary argument,” The Guardian reported on Monday.

The group of 100 claimants includes actors, athletes and those who have some connection to celebrities.

“The claimants were the overwhelming victors on each of the key generic issues examined by the judge,” said Sherborne. “These findings have clearly justified the bringing of the generic case and provided important vindication to the claimants as well as crucial judicial findings and the important uncovering of the truth that had been concealed and lied about by MGN.”

The £1.94M figure does not include Prince Harry’s legal fees, which will be determined at a later date, as the Duke’s days in court with MGM are not through. The court has only examined 33 of the 148 news articles that MGM’s newspapers published in the period in question, so the mounting cost of his case will be determined when it’s all said and done.

MGN’s Roger Mallalieu KC has told the court that the company has sought to settle the case with the royal; terms of that offer have not been publicly disclosed. Meanwhile, the company has balked at repayment to the “generic” plaintiffs, with Mallalieu proposing shelling out just 35 percent of the successful claimants’ costs. He wrote to the court that this is reflective of the “partial success on the trial issues.”

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