Daily Mail seeks to delay legal charges over high-profile privacy breaches | Daily mail

The Daily Mail has sought to delay publication of potentially damaging legal allegations about the journalism made by Prince Harry, Doreen Lawrence, Elton John and others.

Lawyers representing the group of high-profile individuals claim they have “compelling and deeply disturbing evidence” that they have been the victims of “heinous criminal activity and egregious privacy violations” by Associated Newspapers for years.

The plaintiffs – who also include Hugh Grant, Sadie Frost, David Furnish and Liz Hurley – filed suit against Associated Newspapers in early October. Lawyers acting for the group claim the Daily Mail’s parent company misused celebrities’ private information, including an allegation relating to the placement of listening devices in private homes.

Paul Dacre, the current editor-in-chief of the Mail’s parent company, told the Leveson inquiry into press ethics that his newspaper group has never engaged in illegal behavior such as phone hacking. There is speculation that he is in line for a peerage in Boris Johnson’s resignation, but Labor MPs have called for this to be delayed pending the outcome of this legal action.

Under a normal legal timetable, the allegations should have been formally acknowledged by the Daily Mail within 14 days of being served, automatically making the detailed allegations available for public and media scrutiny.

However, two months later, the paperwork detailing the allegations against the Daily Mail and its sister titles is still not public. Sources familiar with the matter said this followed a legal intervention by Associated Newspapers which has delayed formal acknowledgment – and therefore publication – of the allegations.

This is despite the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’s long record of campaigning against “secret justice” and for transparency in the justice system. Spokesmen for the Daily Mail’s parent company did not respond to multiple requests for comment, asking why the company had not yet acknowledged the allegations.

Among the allegations against the Associated Newspaper made by lawyers acting for the plaintiffs were:

  • hiring private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside people’s cars and homes;

  • commissions by individuals to covertly listen to and record people’s live, private telephone conversations as they took place;

  • paying police officials, with allegedly corrupt links to private investigators, for sensitive inside information;

  • impersonating individuals to obtain medical information from private hospitals, clinics and treatment centers by deception;

  • access to bank accounts, credit histories and financial transactions through illegal means and manipulation.

The Mail has previously denied all the claims as “outrageous smears” and said the lawsuits consisted of “baseless and highly defamatory allegations, based on no credible evidence”. They said the proceedings “appear to be little more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone-hacking scandal”.

Another person, former Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, is also suing Associated Newspapers, who is believed to be making specific allegations of voicemail interception on behalf of the paper’s report. This will represent the first time the Mail has faced legal action relating to some of the same allegations that led to the closure of the News of the World, although the Mail has yet to publicly respond to those allegations.

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