Doreen Lawrence and Prince Harry among claimants to allege unlawful activity including phone hacking at the Daily Mail

After years of denials that hacking occurred at Mail titles a series of claims, which include alleged phone hacking, have today been lodged against the newspaper’s publisher at the High Court.

The claimants include Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racially aggravated attack in 1993.  Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has often cited his paper’s coverage of Stephen’s murder as evidence that it is a newspaper which holds power to account and serves the interests of the public.

Dacre, now Editor-in-Chief of the Mail Group, vigorously denied – on oath – that the Mail Group had any involvement in phone-hacking at the Leveson Inquiry, a denial echoed by Peter Wright, the then editor of the Mail on Sunday. 

The conduct alleged in the claims dates to the period Paul Dacre was editor of the newspaper.

Prince Harry is among the claimants, who also include Sadie Frost, Elizabeth Hurley, Elton John & David Furnish.

Hacked Off Chief Executive Nathan Sparkes said,

When Hugh Grant reported his suspicions that the Daily Mail had hacked his phone to the Leveson Inquiry in 2012, the Mail accused him of lying and attacked his sworn evidence as “mendacious smears”.  These allegations were due to be investigated in greater detail in Leveson Part Two, until the Conservative Government bowed to pressure from the Mail and other newspapers to cancel it.

Today, Doreen Lawrence, Prince Harry and the other claimants are preparing to repeat similar “mendacious smears” in a court of law. This time the Mail will have to defend itself in front of a High Court judge, rather than relying on its political allies in Downing Street to get them off the hook.

If phone hacking did occur at Mail titles, and Paul Dacre is found to have been aware of it, he would have knowingly misled the Leveson Inquiry on oath. Any plans to give him a seat in the House of Lords should be suspended until the conclusion of these claims and any subsequent investigations.

The claim lodged on behalf of Baroness Lawrence raises the possibility that, while publicly applauding themselves as the defenders of the family’s interests, the paper was actively listening on their voicemail messages, and spying on them, in pursuit of new stories.

The Government’s cancellation of Leveson Part Two was a tacit endorsement of criminality and corruption among the newspaper industry and the police. The fact that yet another newspaper group is facing legal claims suggest that there is much more to be investigated. The Government must start putting the public ahead of the interests of the handful of individuals running our national newspapers and re-establish Leveson Part Two without any further delay.

 

NOTES

 

  1. Spokespeople are available for comment – including (other) victims of phone hacking. Please contact: 07826 528 296 
  2. Of the claimants, Prince Harry is also currently suing News Group Newspapers (the publisher of the Sun and News of the World), and Mirror Group Newspapers for phone-hacking. Ms Frost, Ms Hurley, Elton John & David Furnish have all previously sued bith News Group and Mirror Group and received significant damages from both publishers.
  3. Byline Investigates and Expose News are the strongest media sources on allegations against the Mail.

Byline Investigates’ coverage here: https://bylineinvestigates.com/section/the-mail/

Expose News: https://expose.news/section/the-mail/ 

  1. Extract of Paul Dacre’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry (Part 1):

22       Q. [David Sherborne]  But in these circumstances, Mr Dacre, can you honestly

23           be 100 per cent certain, having looked into it, that

24           this story [which Hugh Grant alleged might have been the result of phone hacking] was not based on information which had

25           somehow been accessed from Mr Grant’s voicemails?

 1       A. [Paul Dacre] I can be as confident as any editor, having made

 2           extensive enquiries into his newspaper’s practices and

 3           held an inquiry, that phone hacking was not practised by

 4           the Daily Mail or the Mail on Sunday.  You know that

 5           because I gave my unequivocal, unequivocal assurances

 6           earlier in this week.

 7       Q.  You see, Mr Mohan, the editor of the Sun — you

 8           mentioned other editors — had to accept that he

 9           couldn’t be 100 per cent sure that none of his

10           journalists or freelancers — remember this is

11           a freelance story — that none of his journalists —

12       A.  No, it was a freelance story that was written by a staff

13           person talking to senior freelancers, yes.

14       Q.  That none of his journalists or freelancers hadn’t

15           obtained any of their stories?

16       A.  Yes, I can be very confident because those journalists

17           are journalists of integrity, we’ve used them in our

18           group for years and the source I have told you of

19           Ms Feinstein had been impeccably accurate in the past.

20       Q.  And Mr Wallis also said he couldn’t be sure.

21       A.  I’m not going to speak for other newspapers.  I will

22           speak for Associated Newspapers and I’ve told this

23           Inquiry, I cannot be any more unequivocal, that all my

24           enquiries and all the evidence I’ve received, and having

25           spoken to the editor of my group: our group did not hack

 1           phones, and I rather resent your continued insinuations

 2           that we did.

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