The Daily Mail is seeking to delay the publication of court allegations made by high-profile claimants surrounding the newspaper’s journalism practices.
The potentially damaging allegations, made by lawyers acting for Prince Harry, Doreen Lawrence, Elton John and other high-profile individuals, should have been formally acknowledged by the Daily Mail within 14 days from when they were served, automatically making their details available for public and media scrutiny, according to The Guardian.
, which also includes Sadie Frost, David Furnish and Liz Hurley, filed court cases against Associated Newspapers, the Mail’s parent company, in early October.
Lawyers representing the group said they had “compelling and highly distressing evidence” that their clients had been the “victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers over many years.
The lawyers claimed that the Daily Mail’s parent company misused private information, alleging that listening devices may have been placed in the homes of the celebrities.
Paul Dacre, now editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, told the Leveson Inquiry in 2012 while editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail that his newspaper had never engaged in illegal behavior such as phone hacking.
Dacre is speculated to be on Boris Johnson’s resignation honors list, but Labour MPs have demanded that the honor be delayed pending the outcome of the legal case.
Sources with knowledge of the case said that the paperwork setting out the allegations against the Daily Mail and its sister title is still private due to legal intervention by Associated Newspapers, which has delayed formal acknowledgment — and therefore publication — of the claims.
The allegations come despite the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’s long record of campaigning against “secret justice” and promoting transparency in the court system. A spokespeople for the Daily Mail’s parent company did not respond to multiple requests for comment on why the company had yet to acknowledge the claims.
Associated Newspapers has been accused of hiring private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes, commissioning individuals to surreptitiously listen in to, and record, private telephone calls, paying police officials for sensitive inside information, impersonating individuals to obtain medical information by deception, and accessing bank accounts, credit histories and financial transactions through illicit means and manipulation.
The Daily Mail previously dismissed the claims as “preposterous smears,” alleging that the legal cases consisted of “unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims based on no credible evidence.” The paper said that the proceedings “appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone-hacking scandal.”
Former Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes is also filing proceedings against Associated Newspapers. His claims are believed to center around allegations of voicemail interception by the newspaper.
The major allegations are the first to be leveled against the Daily Mail by high-profile individuals in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and 2011 closure of the News of the World.