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Prince Harry at centre of phone-hacking trial

By Vincent Ashitey
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Prince Harry will be at the centre of a trial against a newspaper publisher over phone-hacking allegations.

The Duke of Sussex is one of a number of high-profile figures bringing damages claims against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over alleged unlawful information gathering.

The trial is due to begin on 9 May, the week after the King's coronation.

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He is one of a handful of representative claimants selected as test cases at a hearing in London.

Other celebrities involved in the case include the singer and former Girls Aloud star Cheryl, the estate of the late singer George Michael, ex-footballer and TV presenter Ian Wright and actor Ricky Tomlinson.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled on Wednesday that the duke's claim should be one of those tried, saying it was an "obvious selection" because his claim covers an extensive period of time and 24 private investigators.

The court heard that the duke's case is that 148 articles published between 1996 and 2010 included information that was allegedly obtained through unlawful means, including phone hacking.

George Michael leaves the Cote Brassiere restaurant in Highgate on August 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,
The estate of the late singer George Michael (pictured in 2013) is also involved in the legal action


The judge said the number of articles to be considered at trial should be reduced to about 33.

He said the duke's case is one which "will not settle", on the basis of what he has read and heard in court, adding: "So it will have to be tried at some stage and might as well be tried now."

David Sherborne, representing the claimants, said the duke would be the only witness in his claim.

The other claimants selected for trial are former Coronation Street actress Nikki Sanderson, comedian Paul Whitehouse's ex-wife Fiona Wightman and actor Michael Turner.

MGN is contesting the claims, arguing that some have been brought too late.

The publisher of titles including the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People, MGN has previously settled a number of claims against it in relation to unlawful information gathering, as has News Group Newspapers (NGN) - the publisher of the now-defunct News Of The World and the Sun - in a separate ongoing legal action.