Prince Harry Ordered by Judge to Explain 'Destroyed' Messages with Memoir Ghostwriter amid Privacy Case

Prince Harry has been ordered to explain how potential evidence has gone missing in his lawsuit against the publishers of a British tabloid after he was accused of destroying documents and communications

Published Time: 28.06.2024 - 17:31:13 Modified Time: 28.06.2024 - 17:31:13

Prince Harry has been ordered to explain how potential evidence has gone missing in his lawsuit against the publishers of a British tabloid after he was accused of destroying documents and communications.

Attorney Anthony Hudson — representing the publisher of The Sun, News Group Newspapers (NGN) — told the court on June 27 that the Duke of Sussex, 39, deleted drafts of his 2023 memoir, Spare, as well as messages with the book's ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer.

Justice Fancourt said he's seen "troubling evidence that a large number of potentially relevant documents and confidential messages between the Duke and the ghostwriter of Spare were destroyed sometime between 2021 and 2023, well after this claim was underway," according to The Telegraph.

The judge said the lack of documentation was "rather remarkable" and gave him "cause for concern," the outlet reported. Adding it was "not transparently clear about what happened," the judge asked Prince Harry, who was not present in court, for a witness statement explaining "what happened to the messages between himself and his ghostwriter and whether any attempts were made to retrieve them."

Prince Harry's attorney David Sherborne accused NGN of a "transparent, old-fashioned fishing expedition," according to court papers obtained by PEOPLE.

"NGN's tactical and sluggish approach to disclosure wholly undermines the deliberately sensational assertion that the Duke of Suss -

ex has not properly carried out the disclosure exercise," Sherborne said in court documents. "This is untrue. In fact, the Claimant has already made clear that he has conducted extensive searches, going above and beyond his obligations."

Sherborne added that these measures have included a physical search of Prince Harry's California home, confirming old addresses were no longer accessible and making inquiries to the "Royal Household" about relevant documents.

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Prince Harry is one of the dozens suing NGN over claims of invasions of privacy by their journalists and investigators between 1994 and 2016. Some of the cases are likely to be heard at a trial in January 2025.

The Duke of Sussex has recently been involved in four lawsuits against newspaper publishers in the U.K. over allegations of phone hacking and other unlawful acts.

Separately, Prince Harry lost his legal challenge to havepolice security in the U.K. earlier this year. He previously said he "felt forced" tostep back from his royal roleand leave the U.K. in 2020, citing security concerns for his family — his wife, Meghan Markle, and their two children,Prince Archie, 5,andPrincess Lilibet, 3 — but High Court judge Peter Lane upheld the decision by the U.K. government not to give themautomatic protection in the country and downgrade his security.

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