A High Court judge accepted this interpretation, writing that the story leads the reader to believe that Harry has deliberately tried to mislead the public about the truth of the legal proceedings against the government.
“It may be possible to ‘spin’ the facts in a non-misleading manner, but the allegation made in the article is intended to mislead the public,” the judge wrote. “It provides the necessary element for defamation to mean at common law.”
Nicklin decided that the story’s description of how Harry and his lawyers tried to keep police protection confidential from the Home Office reached the threshold of defamation.
The “natural and normal” meaning of the Mail on Sunday article, Nicklin wrote, was that Harry “initially sought far-reaching and unjustifiably broad privacy restrictions and was rightly challenged by the Home Office on the grounds of transparency and open justice.”
A High Court judge wrote that “the message is clear, in headlines and [specific] paragraphs of the Mail on Sunday story” met the common law requirements for defamation.
Throughout the ruling, Nicklin emphasized that his decision was “the first step in a defamation claim.”
The next step is for the defendant to file a defense to the claim. Whether a claim succeeds or fails, and on what basis, is a matter for determination later in the process,” Nicklin wrote.