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Prince Harry and Meghan sue unnamed paparazzi for invasion of privacy in California

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said photographers crossed a line after trying to sell photos of their son Archie in their backyard under false pretenses.
Image: Annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive for the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9, 2020.Henry Nicholls / Reuters file

LOS ANGELES — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, filed an invasion of privacy suit against unnamed paparazzi Thursday, accusing photographers of taking drastic measures to get images of the couple and their son at their California home.

The couple took action after the paparazzi crossed a “red line” by attempting to sell a photo that the photographers said was taken at a store in Malibu of 14-month-old Archie, according to the lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The photos were clearly from the couple’s backyard, as Archie hadn’t been out in months, Harry and Meghan’s lawsuit stated.

“The unscrupulous people shopping these photographs have not innocently mislabeled the photographs as having been taken in a public place,” the lawsuit said. “They have done so intentionally, because they know that unsolicited photographs of a young child in the privacy of his own home are very much unlawful.”

The defendants in the lawsuit are unnamed because they are not known to the couple and could include photographers and businesses that might have induced or facilitated the shopping of the photos.

Harry and Meghan allege in the lawsuit that photographers have been relentless in their attempt to get photos of the family since they left England this spring, and particularly after their locations in Canada and Los Angeles were published this year.

Photographers have allegedly cut holes in their fence and flown helicopters and drones over the home in attempts to get pictures, the lawsuit said. Michael Kump, the couple’s attorney, said in a statement to NBC News that the couple has the same right to privacy under the law as any California resident.

“No drones, helicopters or telephoto lenses can take away that right,” Kump said. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are filing this lawsuit to protect their young son’s right to privacy in their home without intrusion by photographers, and to uncover and stop those who seek to profit from these illegal actions.”

The lawsuit asks the court to force the unnamed defendants to turn over any and all photographs taken while violating the “reasonable” right to privacy, including those of Harry and Meghan’s son, as well as monetary damages.

Harry and Meghan have filed two lawsuits in the United Kingdom in the last year, one against Associated Papers and another against News Group Newspapers.

The couple filed suit last against Associated Papers, The Mail on Sunday's parent company, after the tabloid published a private letter written by Meghan to her father. Harry and Meghan accused the company of intentionally editing out entire paragraphs to manipulate readers.

A judge struck out parts of Meghan's claim against Associated Papers in May, including the claim that The Mail on Sunday deliberately "stirred up" issues with her father by publishing the letter and that it acted "dishonestly" by leaving out certain passages.

Harry also filed suit last year against News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun, for alleged phone hacking that involved illegally intercepting voicemail messages. The suit is still ongoing.

Diana Dasrath reported from Los Angeles, and Doha Madani reported from New York City.