Associated Newspaper, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and MailOnline, lost a Court of Appeal challenge against a ruling in favour of Meghan over the publication of extracts from a personal letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle Snr. Meghan penned the letter to her father in August 2018.
In February 2019, the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline published over five articles extracts from this “personal and private” letter.
Prince Harry announced the Duchess of Sussex had decided to sue Associated Newspaper in a statement issued in early October 2019, as the couple was completing a royal tour in South Africa.
Meghan claimed the Associated Newspapers’ articles containing her letter misused her private information, infringed her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.
The Duchess won her privacy case in February, when High Court judge Lord Justice Warby ruled in her favour without a full trial saying the publication of these extracts had been “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful”.
Meghan Markle has issued a bombshell statement after the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court judge’s decision over her privacy case. She declared it “a victory not just for me but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right”. Read what Meghan said in full here.
Meghan Markle has triumphed in court following a Court of Appeal hearing last month
Meghan Markle penned a personal letter to her father in August 2018
Giving his ruling, the judge said the majority of the content published was about Meghan’s “behaviour, her feelings of anguish about her father’s behaviour, as she saw it, and the resulting rift between them”.
He added: “These are inherently private and personal matters.”
Associated Newspapers challenged this ruling and brought an appeal against this decision.
During a three-day hearing held in November, the British publisher’s lawyers argued the case should go to a trial.
However, judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean dismissed the publisher’s appeal in a ruling on Thursday morning.
Reading a summary of their decision, Sir Geoffrey said: “It was hard to see what evidence could have been adduced at trial that would have altered the situation.
“The judge had been in as good a position as any trial judge to look at the article in People magazine, the letter and The Mail On Sunday articles to decide if publication of the contents of the letter was appropriate to rebut the allegations against Mr Markle.
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in New York
“The judge had correctly decided that, whilst it might have been proportionate to publish a very small part of the letter for that purpose, it was not necessary to publish half the contents of the letter as ANL had done.”
In his mention of the People magazine article, Sir Geoffrey referred to a story published in early 2019 and in which five of Meghan’s friends anonymously defended the Duchess and spoke about Mr Markle.
In the judgement, the judges also stated the content of Meghan’s letter to her father was “personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest.”
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got married in May 2018
During the hearing in November, the judges were told during the hearing that 585 out of the letter’s 1,250 words had been republished in the five articles in question.
Moreover, they heard a written witness statement by Jason Knauf, the former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who claimed Meghan wrote the letter with the understanding that it could be leaked.
He said she had sent him an early draft of the letter and had written: “Obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice, but please do let me know if anything stands out for you as a liability.”
In her statement, Meghan stressed she did not think her father would leak her letter as it would have shown him in a “bad light”.
Denying she thought it likely her letter would enter the public sphere, she said she “merely recognised that this was a possibility”.
The Duchess also said: “The proposition that saying that I recognised that it was possible that my father would leak the letter, albeit unlikely, is the same as saying that I thought it likely that he would do so is, I would suggest, absurd.”
The Duchess said the text exchange showed she went to “considerable lengths to ensure that the letter only went to my father”.
Following the Court of Appeal’s judgement, Meghan issued a strongly-worded statement celebrating her victory.
It read: “This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right.
“While this win is precedent setting, what matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry depicted in November 2017
“From day one, I have treated this lawsuit as an important measure of right versus wrong.
“The defendant has treated it as a game with no rules. The longer they dragged it out, the more they could twist facts and manipulate the public (even during the appeal itself), making a straightforward case extraordinarily convoluted in order to generate more headlines and sell more newspapers – a model that rewards chaos above truth.
“In the nearly three years since this began, I have been patient in the face of deception, intimidation and calculated attacks.
“Today, the courts ruled in my favour – again. – cementing that The Mail on Sunday, owned by Lord Jonathan Rothermere, has broken the law.
“The courts have held the defendant to account, and my hope is that we all begin to do the same.
“Because as far removed as it may seem from your personal life, it’s not. Tomorrow it could be you.
“These harmful practices don’t happen once in a blue moon – they are a daily fail that divide us, and we all deserve better.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK