US authorities ‘have evidence to make arrests’ over Harry and Meghan car chase

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they were followed by paparazzi after attending an awards ceremony last May in New York.

US authorities concluded there was enough evidence to arrest two people for “reckless endangerment” after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they experienced a “near-catastrophic” car chase in New York involving paparazzi, a court was told.

Details of a review of the incident in May last year were revealed in a High Court ruling on Wednesday over Harry’s challenge to a decision to change the level of his taxpayer-funded, personal security when visiting the UK.

Retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane dismissed the duke’s case against the Home Office, with his judgment referring to evidence submitted over what happened in New York.

The judge’s ruling featured a redacted version of a December 6 2023 letter, provided to him by Harry’s barrister, from the chief of intelligence in the New York City Police Department to the chief superintendent OCU commander royalty and speciality protection.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were leaving an awards ceremony when the car chase took place (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Sir Peter said that “contrary to what appears to have entered the public domain”, the letter states that “reckless endangerment did take place on 16 May 2023” when Harry and Meghan were being driven in Manhattan.

In the letter, the chief of intelligence says he wants to make “aware of certain changes to the security posture that will be afforded to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in light of the security incident that took place on May 16 2023 in New York City”.

According to the judge, the letter says that “a thorough review of the incident had taken place and although no formal charges were brought against the parties involved at the time ‘we did conclude that the behaviour in question was reckless’.”

Sir Peter said the investigation “found reckless disregard of vehicle and traffic laws and persistently dangerous and unacceptable behaviour on the part of paparazzi during the night in question”.

“They had operated vehicles, scooters and bicycles in a manner that forced the security team, which included the NYPD lead car, to take evasive actions on several occasions and a circuitous route to avoid being struck by pursuing vehicles or trapped on side blocks,” the judge added.

He said that “the conclusion was that there was sufficient evidence to arrest two individuals for reckless endangerment”.

A spokesperson for the duke and duchess previously said they were followed by paparazzi after attending an awards ceremony with the duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland.

The three of them are said to have been subjected to a “relentless pursuit” involving half a dozen blacked out vehicles, described as “a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi”.

It was understood at the time that Harry, Meghan and Ms Ragland were staying at a private residence and did not want to compromise the security of their friend’s home.

It was also understood that the couple believe the pursuit could have been fatal, with the incident said to have featured traffic violations including driving on the pavement and through red lights, reversing down a one-way street, illegally blocking a moving vehicle and driving while photographing and while on the phone.

A taxi driver who said he transported the couple for part of the journey said the dangers may have been “exaggerated”.

At the time of the incident, the New York Police Department, which deployed officers to help escort the duke and duchess, said “numerous photographers” had “made their transport difficult” on the night.

The statement said there were “no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests”.

New York mayor Eric Adams condemned the photographers for being “reckless and irresponsible”.

He added that it would be “horrific” for Harry to be involved in an accident similar to the one that killed his mother Diana, the Princess of Wales, in 1997.

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