Ruling due on latest stage of Meghan’s High Court action over letter

A ruling is due on the latest stage of the Duchess of Sussex’s High Court action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday over its publication of a “private and confidential” letter sent to her estranged father.

Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers (ANL) and claims the February 2019 publication of parts of the handwritten letter, sent to Thomas Markle, 76, in August 2018, was a misuse of her private information and breached the Data Protection Act.

At a preliminary hearing in London last week, ANL sought permission to amend its written defence to Meghan’s claim to argue she “co-operated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to put out their version of certain events”.

But Meghan’s lawyers denied that she “collaborated” with the authors of the book, which was published in August, and argued that references to the letter in it were simply “extracts from the letter lifted from the defendant’s own articles”.

Judge Francesca Kaye, who presided over the hearing, will give her decision on the matter in an oral ruling at the High Court in London from 2pm on Tuesday.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

In written arguments before the court at last Monday’s hearing, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said: “The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the book.”

He added that neither Meghan nor Harry spoke to either of the authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who he said “were not given the impression that the claimant wanted the contents of the letter to be reproduced in the book”.

Antony White QC, representing ANL, said in written submissions that Finding Freedom gave “every appearance of having been written with their (Meghan and Harry’s) extensive co-operation”.

He added that ANL wished to amend its defence to allege that Meghan “caused or permitted information to be provided directly or indirectly to, and co-operated with, the authors of (Finding Freedom), including by giving or permitting them to be given information about the letter”.

Last month, the duchess won the most recent tussle in the legal action after Mr Justice Warby ruled in her favour over protecting the identities of five friends who gave an anonymous interview to a US magazine.

Meghan’s lawyers had applied for the friends who gave the interview to People magazine, speaking out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, to remain anonymous in reports of the proceedings.

Meghan is suing ANL over five articles – two in the Mail on Sunday and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019.

The headline of the first Mail on Sunday article read: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”