The latest hearing on Meghan’s privacy court case against Associated Newspapers is taking place today and tomorrow. The Duchess of Sussex’s lawyers are applying for summary judgement, which if approved would in effect end the case without a full trial.
Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, publisher of the MailOnline, Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, for publishing in February 2019 extracts of a letter she sent in August 2018 to her estranged father, Thomas Markle Snr.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the Duchess, described the hand-written letter as “a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father”, which Meghan sent to Mr Markle “at his home in Mexico via a trusted contact … to reduce the risk of interception”.
He said the “contents and character of the letter were intrinsically private, personal and sensitive in nature” and Meghan therefore “had a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the contents of the letter”.
Mr Rushbrooke added in written submissions: “It is as good an example as one could find of a letter that any person of ordinary sensibilities would not want to be disclosed to third parties, let alone in a mass media publication, in a sensational context and to serve the commercial purposes of the newspaper.”
Meghan Markle court case: Meghan’s lawyer are applying for a summary judgement
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry married in 2018
Meghan’s legal team also said the decision to publish the letter was an assault on “her private life, her family life and her correspondence”, in documents submitted before the hearing.
Their argument submitted to the court stated: “Every citizen, whatever their profile or position, has the right under English law to respect for their private and family life, their home and their correspondence.
“The Defendant’s decision to publish, without the Claimant’s consent or even prior knowledge, very substantial extracts from her letter to her father to its millions of readers worldwide was a plain and serious invasion of her rights of privacy in that letter.
Meghan Markle is suing Associated Newspapers
“It was in fact a direct assault on, not just one, but three of the four strands of privacy rights protected under Article 8, all of which coalesced in the Letter: her private life, her family life and her correspondence.
Meghan’s lawyers asked for the possibility to apply for summary judgement in October, saying they were confident in her case and did not believe the defence’s case had a chance of succeeding.
The Duchess of Sussex’s legal team added they did not believe there was a compelling reason for the trial to go ahead.
Meghan Markle is no longer a senior royal
Meghan Markle now live in California
Today, Mr Rushbrooke told the court: “At its heart, it is a very straightforward case about the unlawful publication of a private letter.
“We say that, quite simply, the publication to millions of readers of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline of extensive extracts from a private and, indeed, deeply personal letter written by the claimant to her father that took place on February 10 2019 was a plain and serious breach of her right to privacy.”
Speaking about the letter Meghan sent to her father three years ago, the Duchess’ lawyer said it was “not written in anger but written in sorrow, by a daughter who clearly felt she had reached a breaking point in her relationship with her father.”
He also said Meghan “never consented” to the publication of her letter which, the lawyer noted, contained the word “painful” five times.
Meghan, Mr Rushbrooke added, wasn’t even told in advance the letter was to be published.
Arguing in favour of the summary judgement, Mr Rushbrooke added ANL “has no viable defence” to Meghan’s claim for misuse of private information.
Antony White QC, who represents Associated Newspapers, said in written submissions that the case was “wholly unsuitable for summary judgment”.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry met during the summer of 2016
Mr White said there was “uncertainty as to a number of significant factual matters which can, and should, be investigated at trial when the court will have the full picture in terms of disclosure and evidence”.
He added: “This is particularly so when the claimant’s case in respect of certain important factual issues has shifted, (including) in relation to the circumstances in which the letter was written and the extent to which she had disclosed information about the letter with a view to publication.
“There are now on the record a number of inconsistent statements made by her that she will need to explain.”
Mr White argued that, if the court assessed whether Meghan had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the letter, “it would be likely to come to the conclusion that the claimant has not shown a reasonable expectation of privacy” and that “on the contrary, she expected or intended its contents to enter the public domain”.
Meghan Markle’s lawyers said the contents and character of the letter to her father ‘were intrinsically private’
The full trial was scheduled to begin on January 11 and to last between eight to 10 days.
However, Mr Justice Warby ruled in favour of another application issued by Meghan’s lawyers last October in which they asked to push back the trial to autumn 2021.
Meghan is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.
Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations, particularly the Duchess’s claim the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will contest the case.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK