1st March 2024

Various Claimants vs. Associated Newspapers Limited: Claimants application to Home Secretary and Culture Secretary to use private Leveson material succeeeds

By Callum Galbraith

In 2011, Associated Newspapers Limited, publisher of the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday, disclosed details, in the form of Ledgers, of its use of private investigators to the Leveson Inquiry. That information was not made public at the time of the Leveson Inquiry.

In October 2022, proceedings in the High Court for unlawful information gathering were issued against Associated by a number of individuals including Hamlins’ clients, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex and Sadie Frost (see: Press release: Various Claimants vs. Associated Newspapers Limited – Hamlins LLP London). Swiftly after, Associated applied to the Court, to prevent the Claimants using the ledgers in their claims unless they were given permission to do by the relevant Government Minister, on the basis that using the materials was in breach of certain restrictions imposed.

That application, following a landmark 4 day hearing in March 2023, succeeded in November 2023, albeit narrowly. However, the Judge decided “without difficulty” that Associated’s efforts to bring the claims to end on limitation grounds failed and that would need to be determined at trial (see: Press Statement: Judgment in relation to Various Claimants vs. Associated Newspapers Limited – Hamlins LLP London).

Following the Court’s decision in November 2023, the Claimants applied to the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, for an order to permit them to use the Ledgers. Associated sought to resist that application. On the 29 February 2024, the Ministers granted the Claimants’ application and the Ministerial Statement stated:

We do not consider that it is necessary in the public interest to withhold these documents from any disclosure or publication and have decided to vary the FRO so as to allow the disclosure of these documents solely for the purposes of the proceedings. In this case, in our judgement, the public interest in promoting the just, speedy and economic resolution of the proceedings outweighs the countervailing public interests”.

The Variation Notice is at: Variation notice (publishing.service.gov.uk)

The Culture Secretary’s written statement is available at www.gov.uk.

The claims will now proceed through the pleadings with Associated’s Defences the next substantive step.

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, and Sadie Frost are represented by Hamlins LLP.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, Elizabeth Hurley and Sir Elton John and David Furnish are represented by gunnercooke.

Sir Simon Hughes is represented by Thomson Heath & Associates.

David Sherborne, Julian Santos, Ben Hamer and Luke Browne of 5RB are Counsel for all the Claimants instructed by Callum Galbraith of Hamlins LLP, Anjlee Sangani of gunnercooke and Mark Thomson of Thomson Heath & Associates.

All queries to media.comms@hamlins.com

Have a question? Contact Callum

Have a question? Contact Callum


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