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Harry told he must pay Mail on Sunday lawyers’ bills

The Duke of Sussex must pay lawyers’ bills run up by the publisher of The Mail on Sunday after losing the latest stage of a High Court libel battle, a judge says.

Harry on Friday failed in a bid to have Associated Newspapers’ defence to his libel claim thrown out.

Mr Justice Nicklin says the duke must now pay the legal costs incurred by Associated in relation to that “summary judgment application”.

The judge said, in a written case order released to journalists on Monday, that those costs should be assessed if they were not agreed.

But he said the duke should pay Associated £48,447 “on account” before the end of the year.

Invictus Games – Dusseldorf
Harry is suing Associated over an article about his legal challenge against the Home Office following a decision to change his publicly funded security arrangements when visiting the UK (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The judge’s order summarises his ruling on the summary judgment application, spells out his decision relating to costs and outlines a timetable for further hearings.

Mr Justice Nicklin said, in the written order, that a trial was scheduled to be staged between May 17 and July 31 2024.

He estimated that the trial would last three days.

The judge said a “pre-trial review” hearing would be staged about two months before the trial.

Harry is suing Associated over a February 2022 article about his legal challenge against the Home Office following a decision to change his publicly funded security arrangements when visiting the UK.

The duke’s lawyers have claimed the story “purported to reveal, in sensational terms” that information from court documents “contradicted public statements he had previously made about his willingness to pay for police protection for himself and his family whilst in the UK”.

They allege the article was “an attack on his honesty and integrity”, and would undermine his charity work and efforts to tackle misinformation online.

Associated is contesting the claim, arguing the article expressed an “honest opinion” and did not cause “serious harm” to his reputation.

In March, the High Court heard the duke’s bid to strike out ANL’s “honest opinion” defence or grant judgment in his favour on it.

In a written ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Nicklin refused to “strike out” Associated’s defence.

The judge concluded the publisher had a “real prospect” of successfully showing at a trial that previous Harry press statements provided a “misleading” description of his case against the Home Office.

A hearing, dealing with the consequences of Mr Justice Nicklin’s summary judgment decision, had been listed for Tuesday.

But Mr Justice Nicklin said, in his written order, that hearing would not now take place.

He delivered the ruling on the duke’s summary judgment application a day after the High Court finished hearing Harry’s claim that the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures – which comes under the department’s remit – to change the degree of his personal protection was “unlawful and unfair”.

A different judge’s decision in that case is expected at a later date.