Lawyer for British tabloid accuses Prince Harry of destroying documents sought in litigation

LONDON — An attorney for the publisher of The Sun tabloid Thursday accused Prince Harry of engaging in “shocking” and “extraordinary” obfuscation by destroying evidence it was seeking in his lawsuit claiming that the newspaper violated his privacy by unlawfully snooping on him.

Attorney Anthony Hudson said at High Court that the Duke of Sussex had deliberately destroyed text messages with the ghostwriter who penned his bestselling memoir, “Spare.”

A lawyer for Harry said News Group Newspapers was engaging in a “classic fishing expedition” by seeking documents they should have sought much sooner for a trial scheduled in January.

“NGN’s tactical and sluggish approach to disclosure wholly undermines the deliberately sensational assertion that the claimant (Harry) has not properly carried out the disclosure exercise,” his attorney, David Sherborne, said in court papers. “This is untrue. In fact, the claimant has already made clear that he has conducted extensive searches, going above and beyond his obligations.”

Hudson said Harry had created an “obstacle course” to getting documents it was seeking from his former lawyer and staff when Harry was a working member of the royal family.

“If the claimant wanted his documents from his former solicitors’ or from the royal household … he would have got them,” Hudson said.

The hearing is the latest in Harry’s battles against Britain’s biggest tabloids over alleged phone hacking and hiring private investigators to use unlawful measures to dig up dirt on him.

Harry is one of dozens of claimants, which had included actor Hugh Grant, alleging that between 1994 and 2016, News Group journalists violated their privacy through widespread unlawful activity that included intercepting voicemails, tapping phones, bugging cars and using deception to access confidential information.

The litigation grew out of a phone hacking scandal that erupted at NGN’s News of the World in 2011.

The judge in the case recently ruled that Harry couldn’t expand his lawsuit to add allegations that Rupert Murdoch, who was executive of the company that included NGN, was part of an effort to conceal and destroy evidence of unlawful activity.

NGN issued an unreserved apology in 2011 to victims of voicemail interception by the News of the World, which closed its doors after the scandal. NGN said it has settled 1,300 claims for its newspapers, though The Sun has never accepted liability.

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