Meghan Markle suffered an “attack” on her private and family life when the Mail on Sunday published a letter she wrote to her father, her legal team argued on Tuesday.
Meghan’s lawyers said she had put herself in “an unsupervised and potentially vulnerable position” when writing to her father, and never intended to make the letter public.
The Duchess of Sussex also doubled down on her claims that she had not cooperated with Find freedom author Omid Scobie. Scobie “confirmed in his witness statement that neither he nor his co-author met or questioned the claimant or her husband for the book,” states the legal argument submitted to the court by Meghan.
Meghan seeks “summary judgment” in her high-profile privacy and copyright action against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), triggered by the 2019 publication in the Mail on Sunday from a letter she sent the previous year to her ex-father, Thomas Markle.
If successful, a summary judgment in Meghan’s favor would end the case without a full trial, saving Meghan from dropping the case or undergoing a grueling and potentially embarrassing cross-examination at a witness box in London.
Arguments are presented in written form and via a remote hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meghan is seeking aggravated damages, claiming the publication of the letter was an abuse of private information and violated her copyright.
However, the newspaper maintains that it was justified to publish parts of the letter in response to interviews that its anonymous friends had given to the American magazine. People in which they mentioned the letter but distorted its content. They argue that Thomas Markle had the right to correct claims made about the letter.
ANL also claims they believe Meghan wrote the letter “for public disclosure at some point” and was “at least to some extent prepared for the information to be released”.
However, Meghan’s team called it “utterly fanciful” claims that Meghan did not view the letter as completely private.
ANL also argued that the letter had unusual status as it was written with the assistance of a senior Kensington Palace press secretary.
Antony White, QC for ANL, argued: “No truly private letter from daughter to father would require input from the Kensington Palace communications team.”
White argued that there is “a real possibility that the plaintiff will not succeed in establishing that she was the sole author within the meaning of copyright” because of the involvement of Jason Knauf, former secretary of communications from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in writing. the letter.
However, Meghan’s team maintains that she is the sole author of the letter, claiming that she spent many hours writing the letter on her iPhone and simply shared a draft “with her husband and Mr. Knauf for help, as it was a deeply painful process they had gone through with her, and because Mr. Knauf was responsible for keeping senior members of the royal household apprised of any issues. audience – the media spectacle surrounding Mr. Markle being one such issue. Mr. Knauf provided comments on the electronic project in the form of ‘general ideas’ as opposed to actual wording. “
The full trial of the Duchess’s claim was due to be heard in the High Court this month, but last year the case was adjourned until fall 2021 for ‘confidential’ reasons.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, also representing the Duchess, described the handwritten letter as “a heartfelt appeal from a distressed daughter to her father”, which Meghan sent to Markle “to her home in Mexico via a trusted contact … risk interception.
He said that “the contents and character of the letter were inherently private, personal and sensitive” and that Meghan “therefore had a reasonable expectation of confidentiality with respect to the contents of the letter”.
Rushbrooke added in his written comments: “This is as good an example as one could find of a letter that anyone of ordinary sensitivity would not want to be disclosed to third parties, let alone in a media publication, in a sensational background and to serve the newspaper’s business objectives.
He said the decision to publish the letter was an invasion of âhis privacy, family life and correspondence,â in documents submitted ahead of the hearing.
Their argument before the court stated: âEvery citizen, whatever his profile or position, has the right under English law to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
âThe defendant’s decision to publish, without the plaintiff’s consent or even her prior knowledge, very substantial extracts from her letter to her father to her millions of readers around the world was a flagrant and serious violation of her rights to privacy in this letter.
“It was in fact a direct attack on not one, but three of the four aspects of the right to privacy protected by Article 8, which all merged into the letter: his private life, his family life. and its correspondence.