Newspaper group calls for full trial in Meghan Markle case

Brenda Watkins
January 20, 2021

The Duchess of Sussex is now suing Associated Newspapers Ltd over its publication of extracts of the August 2018 letter to Thomas Markle, claiming breach of privacy and copyright.

Counsel also addressed ANL's contention that Meghan was willing to release personal information, including about the letter to her father, into the public domain via an unauthorised biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Finding Freedom.

The first is the creation of Meghan's letter to Thomas Markle and what drafts of it she shared with her press team.

In a witness statement previously before the court, ANL's group editorial legal director Liz Hartley said she had spoken to Mr Markle who told her: "I am a realist and I could die tomorrow".

Her lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke, told the High Court in London the defence offered by the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline website had no realistic chance of success.

He also said that he "had never meant to talk publicly about Meg's letter to me", but he felt the People article "vilified me by making out that I was dishonest, exploitative, publicity-seeking, uncaring and cold-hearted, leaving a loyal and dutiful daughter devastated".

"It actually signalled the end of our relationship, not a reconciliation", he stated.

The trial was due to start last week but was delayed until late 2021 because of a "confidential" reason.

But the defense argues Meghan wrote the letter as part of a media strategy to rebut a negative view conveyed by her father, and with help from the communications team in the royal couple's Kensington Palace office.

But Meghan's lawyers said she simply indicated to someone she knew had been approached by the authors that the "true position" could be "communicated to the authors to prevent any further misrepresentation".

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Instead, it was a "heartfelt plea" to her father to stop speaking to the media, after he admitted being paid to stage paparazzi photographs before her wedding, which he did not attend. "It would achieve the very opposite of what she's trying to achieve", he added.

Four former aides of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may have evidence which could "shed some light" on Meghan's letter to her estranged father, the High Court was told today.

Rushbrooke said the fact that the duchess is a public figure "does not reduce her expectation of privacy in relation to information of this kind".

He said: "At no time were we provided with a copy of the letter, or the text of the letter, or any extracts from the texts of the letter".

"It's absolutely clear they [Associated] have failed to advance a viable case for justifying the intrusion into the claimant's (privacy) rights".

He claims he believed Meghan "authorized" five of her friends to speak to People about their relationship and the letter she had written to him.

"It misrepresented the tone and content of the letter Meg had written me in August 2018 quickly decided I wanted to correct that misrepresentation". "I did not want the whole of the letter to be published", he claims. "It's about titillating the readership, to put in digs at the expense of my client", he added.

Meghan and Harry, who quit frontline royal duties in March a year ago citing media intrusion, have denied being involved in the publication of the book "Finding Freedom".

Harry - grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and son of heir to the throne Prince Charles and the late Diana, princess of Wales - has separately brought cases against two other British tabloid publishers for alleged phone hacking. The couple are now living in the U.S. with their son Archie.

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