The Duke of Sussex's libel lawsuit against the publisher of The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline can be considered closed, according to a statement the royal's attorney, Jenny Afia, made in court on Monday, Feb. 1. Per her statement, obtained by E! News, the lawsuit stemmed from an October 25, 2020 article published by The Mail on Sunday titled, "Top general accuses Harry of turning his back on the Marines" along with a similar article the MailOnline also published.
"Each article reported that The Duke of Sussex had turned his back on the Royal Marines, had snubbed the British Armed Forces and ignored correspondence from Lord Dannatt, a former Chief of the General Staff," Afia said in court on Monday. "All of these allegations are false, as the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline have now accepted, albeit after considerable damage was already done."
As Afia summarized in her statement in court, the publisher was "immediately put on notice of the falsity and egregious nature of its allegations." The news organization proposed a settlement to Prince Harry on Dec. 3, in which it offered to publish apologies in both outlets and to pay the royal "substantial damages and his costs." It was also then that the article was removed from the website.
On Dec. 24, the Duke of Sussex accepted the settlement offer, which also included wording for the apology. "The Duke did so," Afia said in court, "despite his view that the content and prominence of the proposed apology would not be commensurate with the original story and subsequent harm caused, so as not to unnecessarily protract the litigation."
However, Afia criticized the apologies that were ultimately issued, noting they also lacked the level of prominence as the original stories on the publisher's platforms. "The wording of the apology was the same for the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline. One of the reasons why The Duke has had to make a statement in open court is because the Defendant used wording which significantly underplayed the seriousness of the accusations made against him," Afia accused in court. "It did not expressly acknowledge that the allegations were false."
She also discredited the claim the publisher made in the apology that it donated to the Invictus Games Foundation. Prince Harry created the Invictus Games, which he launched in 2014. He currently serves as patron of the foundation.
"Although the Defendant had, when making its settlement proposal, offered to directly donate The Duke's damages, The Duke wanted to bequest any damages received to Invictus Games Foundation himself so he could feel something good had come out of the situation," Afia explained in court. "Consequently he personally is donating the damages from this case to the Invictus Games Foundation. Although the wording was agreed, the apology does not, therefore, accurately represent what happened in that respect." E! News has reached out to the news organization for comment.