Meghan Markle wins court case over 'personal and private' letter

·Features and Health Editor
·4-min read

Meghan Markle has released an emotional statement after winning her High Court privacy claim against UK publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd.

A judge on Thursday agreed with Meghan Markle's legal team that it was "unlawful" for the newspaper to publish parts of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle Snr, after her wedding to Prince Harry.

Meghan Markle close up

Meghan Markle wins privacy case against the Mail on Sunday's publisher. Photo: Getty

"After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanising practices," the Duchess of Sussex said in a statement.

"For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.

"The world needs reliable, fact-checked, high-quality news. What The Mail on Sunday and its partner publications do is the opposite."

She said "we all lose when misinformation sells", but added "for today, we have all won".

"I share this victory with each of you – because we all deserve justice and truth, and we all deserve better.

"I particularly want to thank my husband, mom, and legal team, and especially Jenny Afia for her unrelenting support throughout this process," she concluded.

Meghan, 39, took legal action against the publishers of the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline, after the two news outlets printed extracts of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle Snr, in 2018.

She said the decision to publish the letter breached her privacy and copyright, but ANL promised to fight the claims.

'Personal and private'

“It was, in short, a personal and private letter. The majority of what was published was about the claimant’s own behaviour, her feelings of anguish about her father’s behaviour — as she saw it — and the resulting rift between them,” judge Mark Warby said in his ruling.

“These are inherently private and personal matters.”

However, the judge has been persuaded that issues of joint copyright need to be heard at trial. 

The court heard previously that Meghan had received help in matters relating to the letter, for example from royal aides like Jason Knauf who was part of the Kensington Palace communications team.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Meghan wrote the letter shortly after her wedding to Harry in 2018. Photo: Getty

The judge said that means the letter "may have generated a copyright that does not belong exclusively to the claimant and may be Crown copyright".

Those issues being the ones that "must go forward to a trial".

Meghan's letter to her father Thomas

The letter to her father, which detailed her heartbreak as he spoke to the press about their relationship, had been sent to Thomas Markle Snr in the months after her wedding to Prince Harry.

Markle had missed the wedding, suffering a heart attack in the days before he was due to fly to the UK.

The Mail On Sunday printed the letter she wrote him, after the existence of the letter was mentioned by Meghan's friends in an interview they did with People magazine.

Thomas Markle

Meghan didn't want to face her father Thomas in court. Photo: ITV

A full trial would have involved calling witnesses like Thomas, and the five friends who spoke to People, as well as Meghan herself.

Facing her father in court had been something Meghan wanted to avoid, according to reports.

Libel and privacy lawyer Amber Melville-Brown from Withers Worldwide, told Yahoo UK: "This is not a complete slam dunk of a win, and Meghan is left with the sword of Damocles of a court appearance hanging over her head, the one thing no doubt, that she was hoping to avoid by bringing these applications.

"She will still face the pain of an uncomfortable appearance in court if the defendants are keen to investigate why, if her letter was intended to be private, she sought the assistance of advisers on its content."

Additional reporting by Rebecca Taylor.

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