The High Court judge agreed with this interpretation, writing that the story may lead readers to believe that Harry had deliberately tried to bamboozle the public about the truth of his legal action against the government.
“It may be possible to ‘spin’ the facts in a non-misleading way, but the allegation made in the article was largely that the object was to mislead the public “wrote the judge. “This provides the necessary element to render defamatory service at common law.”
Nicklin also determined that the story’s description of how Harry and his lawyers tried to keep his efforts to obtain police protection from the Home Office confidential met the defamation threshold.
The ‘natural and ordinary’ meaning of the Mail on Sunday article, Nicklin wrote, was that Harry ‘originally requested privacy restrictions of far-reaching and unjustifiable scale and were rightly challenged by the Home Office for reasons of transparency and open justice. .”
The High Court judge wrote that ‘the message which stands out clearly, in the headlines and (specific) paragraphs’ of the Mail on Sunday story met the common law requirements of defamation.
Throughout the judgment, Nicklin stressed that his decision was “largely the first phase of a defamation suit.”
“The next step will be for the defendant to file a defense to the claim. It will be a matter to be determined later in the proceedings whether the request succeeds or fails, and on what basis,” Nicklin wrote.