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Prince Harry withdraws libel claim against Mail on Sunday publisher

Prince Harry has withdrawn his libel claim against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday.

The Duke of Sussex sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) 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 story claimed Harry "tried to keep details of his legal battle to reinstate his police protection secret from the public".

It was published under the headline: "Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret... then - just minutes after the story broke - his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute."

The duke's lawyers 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 also alleged the article was "an attack on his honesty and integrity", and would undermine his charity work and efforts to tackle misinformation online.

However, ANL - which also publishes the Daily Mail and MailOnline - contested Harry's libel claim, arguing that the article expressed an "honest opinion" and did not cause "serious harm" to his reputation.

Analysis: Withdrawing libel claim a blow to Team Sussex

In July last year, a judge found that the meaning of parts of the article were defamatory, concluding they gave the reader the impression Prince Harry was intentionally attempting to mislead the public.

The duke's lawyers also launched a bid to have ANL's defence thrown out and for judgment to be granted in his favour without a trial.

However, in a ruling last month, the duke lost that bid, with judge Mr Justice Nicklin concluding the publisher had a "real prospect" of arguing its case.

The duke was ordered to pay £48,447 towards the publisher's lawyers' bills for that section of the claim.

The ruling also moved the case closer to a trial, which had been scheduled to take place between May and July.

However, a spokesperson for the Sussexes said Harry had decided to withdraw the claim because he wanted to focus on his separate case with the Home Office.

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"As is the nature with legal proceedings, years have lapsed since this complaint was first filed," the spokesperson said.

"In the time since, the main hearing relating to the duke's judicial review has taken place and we are awaiting the final decision as to whether Ravec acted lawfully with regard to his security.

"His focus remains there, and on the safety of his family."

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The spokesperson added that it was "premature" to speculate on how legal costs in the case would now be determined, after an article on MailOnline reported ANL's legal bill to be as much as £250,000.

Harry is taking action against the Home Office over a decision that he would no longer be given the "same degree" of personal protective security when visiting the UK.

He has argued that the decision to take away his police protection was not taken correctly and that it was unfair and unreasonable.

At a three-day hearing in that case, held at the High Court in December, lawyers representing the duke said Harry was concerned his children Archie and Lilibet would not be able to "feel at home" in the UK should it not be "possible to keep them safe".

A different judge is dealing with that case and a judgment is expected at a later date.