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Prince Harry's lawyers try to include accusation against Rupert Murdoch in case

Lawyers for Britain's Prince Harry and other plaintiffs sought to amend a lawsuit in London against Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids on Wednesday to add the accusation that the media mogul was personally involved in covering up irregularities.

Harry and more than 40 people are suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) over allegations of invasions of privacy by Murdoch's tabloids, the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, which allegedly took place between the 1990s and 2016.

The other claimants include British film director Guy Ritchie, actor Hugh Grant, several former senior politicians and activist Doreen Lawrence, who, along with Harry, is part of another lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mail.

Lawyers on Wednesday asked Judge Timothy Fancourt for permission to add new allegations to their case against NGN, including that senior executives provided misleading evidence to Parliament and a public inquiry.

They claim that Murdoch, 93, provided “knowingly false” evidence and that Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News UK, the British journalism arm of News Corp, “lied and/or provided deliberately misleading evidence” in a 2014 criminal trial. .

They also named Will Lewis, a former News International executive and now editor of the Washington Post, as involved in the alleged cover-up.

An NGN spokesperson highlighted that the allegations against current and former NGN employees were made “in an obscene and cynical attack on its integrity”.

“These allegations have nothing to do with seeking compensation for victims of wiretapping or illegal intelligence gathering and should be viewed with considerable caution,” the spokesperson added.

NGN lawyers commented that the new allegations, introducing 200 new journalists, executives and private investigators, were unnecessary, disproportionate and irrelevant.

“It has become increasingly clear that at least some members of the claimant group appear to be using this document as a vehicle for wider self-interest campaigns against the tabloid press,” NGN lawyer Anthony Hudson told the court.

Hudson highlighted in court documents that the charges in relation to Brooks and others effectively required NGN to “initiate re-trials or an investigation into an inquest”.

“Old” accusations

In 2011, NGN apologized for widespread wiretapping by journalists at the News of the World, which Australian-born Murdoch shut down amid a backlash.

Since then, NGN has resolved more than 1,300 complaints, but the group has always rejected allegations of any wrongdoing by Sun staff. Brooks, a former Sun editor, was found not guilty of hacking and other crimes after an eight-month trial in 2014.

David Sherborne, the lawyer for Harry and the other claimants, told the court that both Murdoch and Brooks knew that NGN's original statement that only “a rogue reporter” was involved in the illegal information gathering was false.

They and other executives were “dishonest in making these statements as they knew they were false at the time they were made,” the new allegations state.

NGN's Hudson said the amended claims were based on “old documents” and in previous versions, Murdoch was mentioned only in passing, with “no accusation against him”.

Plaintiffs' lawyers also said they wanted to include evidence from a former IT engineer that Brooks' computer hard drive was hidden and possibly deliberately destroyed in 2011 to hide his knowledge of wrongdoing.

The court will hear Harry's application to amend his individual case over the next two days, and a decision on whether the new allegations can be included is expected at a later date.

Source: CNN Brasil

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