Thomas Markle could testify against Duchess of Sussex in Mail on Sunday case

The Duchess of Sussex's father could testify against her in her legal battle with the Mail On Sunday after High Court documents revealed he forms part of the paper's defence.

The paper and its parent company Associated Newspapers are accused of unlawfully publishing a letter from Meghan to Thomas Markle, but will argue it was justified because there is a "huge and legitimate" public interest in the "personal relationships" of members of the royal family.

Legal documents seen by the PA news agency reveal the Mail On Sunday will rely on evidence from Mr Markle, including that he "had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened between himself and his daughter including the contents of the letter".

It means should the case go to trial, both Meghan and her father could be called to testify against one another, and the paper's sister publication the Daily Mail reported Mr Markle would be prepared to face her in court.

The document also argues members of the royal family "generate and rely on publicity about themselves and their lives in order to maintain the privileged positions they hold and to promote themselves".

Law firm Schillings, representing the duchess, filed the High Court claim against the paper in October, alleging misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

But in its legal defence, the paper claims the duchess "did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so".

The paper also argues the publication of the letter was in response to a "one-sided" article in People Magazine in February 2019 featuring an interview with five unnamed "close friends" of the duchess which referenced the letter, meaning its existence was in the public domain.

It comes just 24 hours after the Queen agreed Harry and Meghan could step back as senior royals and begin a "new life" as an "independent" family.

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Meghan Markle et Harry, absents de Balmoral : la grosse pique de leur entourage à Kate et William
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will reportedly not be visiting Balmoral this year. [Photo: Getty]
The Duchess of Sussex at the European Premiere of The Lion King, Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees match in London, Britain June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Pool
The Duchess of Sussex holding her son Archie as they attend the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day at Billingbear Polo Club, Wokingham, Berkshire.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their son Archie as they the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day at Billingbear Polo Club, Wokingham, Berkshire.
This official christening photograph released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex with their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor at Windsor Castle with with the Rose Garden in the background, near London, Britain July 6, 2019. Chris Allerton/Pool via REUTERS NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE. NO MERCHANDISING, ADVERTISING, SOUVENIRS, MEMORABILIA or COLOURABLY SIMILAR. NOT FOR USE AFTER AFTER 31 DECEMBER, 2019 WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION FROM ROYAL COMMUNICATIONS. NO CROPPING. Copyright in this photograph is vested in The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. No charge should be made for the supply, release or publication of the photograph. The photograph must not be digitally enhanced, manipulated or modified in any manner or form and must include all of the individuals in the photograph when published.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex receive presents for their son Archie as they meet players of the New York Yankees as they attend the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees baseball game at the London Stadium in support of the Invictus Games Foundation.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex receive presents for their son Archie as they meet players of the Boston Red Sox as they attend the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees baseball game at the London Stadium in support of the Invictus Games Foundation.
Après avoir quitté celle de Kate Middleton et du Prince William, Meghan Markle et le Prince Harry viennent de partager le nom de leur propre fondation. Les détails ici.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry Duke of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Sorry not sorry.
Meghan Markle et le prince Harry viennent une nouvelle fois de s’attirer les foudres des Britanniques. En cause : la rénovation des jardins privés de Frogmore Cottage.
May 19th 2019 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex celebrate their first wedding anniversary. They were married at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle on May 19th 2018. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/23/19 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex arrive at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport as they begin their visit to the Kingdom of Morocco. (Casablanca, Morocco)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 08: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex ride by carriage down the Mall during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watch Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at a photocall to announce their engagement at Kensington Palace, London. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet well-wishers as they arrive at the Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, to attend a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair on their first official engagement together.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to the Nottingham Academy in Nottingham, on their first official engagement together.
1 in series of 10. File photo dated 18/1/2018 of Prince Harry whispering to Meghan Markle as they watch a performance by a Welsh choir in the banqueting hall during a visit to Cardiff Castle.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a reception for young people at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh, during their visit to Scotland.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle talk to sisters Jean Dickinson and Irene Gould on a walkabout during a visit to Millennium Point in Birmingham, as part of the latest leg in the regional tours the couple are undertaking in the run-up to their May wedding.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive for a walkabout in Belfast city centre where they are visiting the Crown Liquor Saloon Bar
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend a women's empowerment reception at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at the Australian High Commission in London to attend a reception celebrating the forthcoming Invictus Games Sydney 2018.
Prince William (left), Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during the annual Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey, London, to commemorate Anzac Day.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle during their wedding service.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchange vows in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle during their wedding service, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their wedding service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
File photo dated 19/05/18 of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as they leave at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony. Princess Eugenie will be the fifth of the Queen's eight grandchildren to wed.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get into the Ascot Landau Carriage as they leave St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kiss as they leave at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London during Trooping the Colour
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade as the Queen celebrates her official birthday.
Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during a group photo at the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive to meet youngsters from across the Commonwealth as they attend the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House in London.
(left to right) The Prince of Wales, Duke of York, Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II, Duchess of Sussex, Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge on the balcony at Buckingham Palace where they watched a Royal Air Force flypast over central London to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend a Summer Party at the British Ambassador's residence at Glencairn House, during a visit to Dublin, Ireland.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Aras an Uachtarain on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland.
Walter Kieran, 3, reaches out to touch the Duchess of Sussex's hair during her visit with the Duke of Sussex to Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex meeting 'King George' and the cast at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London after attending a gala performance of the musical Hamilton, in support of Sentebale.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex depart during a visit to the University of Chichester, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, as part of their first joint official visit to Sussex.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex look out at a heavy downpour of rain during a visit to Clontarf Foundation and Girls Academy in Dubbo, New South Wales, on the second day of the royal couple's visit to Australia.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex react after starting model Formula 1 cars at a demonstration by Formula 1 in Schools, at a reception given by the Governor of Victoria, at Government House during their visit to Melbourne, on the third day of the royal couple's visit to Australia.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet members of surfing community group One Wave during a visit to South Bondi Beach in Sydney, on the day of the royal couple's visit to Australia.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex walk along Kingfisher Bay Jetty on Fraser Island, Queensland, on day seven of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's visit to Australia.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, on day two of the royal couple's visit to Fiji.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend the unveiling of a statue commemorating Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, at Nadi Airport, in Nadi, Fiji, on day three of the royal couple's visit to Fiji.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wear traditional Maori cloaks called Korowai during a visit to Te Papaiouru, Ohinemutu, in Rotorua, before a lunch in honour of Harry and Meghan, on day four of the royal couple's tour of New Zealand.
The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex arriving to attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk.
3 in series of 10. File photo 19/4/2018 of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attending a women's empowerment reception at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex depart Hamilton Square in Birkenhead, following a walkabout and a visit to a new sculpture marking the 100th anniversary of war poet Wilfred Owen�s death.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving at the Endeavour Fund Awards at Draper�s Hall, London. The awards celebrate the achievements of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women who have taken part in sporting and adventure challenges over the last year. Picture Credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS
Duchess of Sussex receives a bouquet of flowers as she and her husband, the Duke of Sussex, leave Canada House in London after a Commonwealth Day youth event celebrating the diverse community of young Canadians living in London and around the UK.
(left to right) The Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Sussex , the Duchess of Sussex and the Prince of Wales as they attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London.
May 19th 2019 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex celebrate their first wedding anniversary. They were married at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle on May 19th 2018. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/25/19 Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are received by HM The King of Morocco in an Audience today at the Royal Palace, Rabat, Morocco.
May 19th 2019 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex celebrate their first wedding anniversary. They were married at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle on May 19th 2018. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-09/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 10/22/18 Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Meghan The Duchess of Sussex visit Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island in Australia.
May 19th 2019 - Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan of Sussex celebrate their first wedding anniversary. They were married at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle on May 19th 2018. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 2/25/19 Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle (The Duke and Duchess of Sussex) at a cooking school demonstration in Rabat on day three of their tour of Morocco.
Pippa Middleton and Prince Harry appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, following the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey, Friday April 29, 2011. (AP Photo/John Stillwell, Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
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Buckingham Palace also confirmed the Sussexes would begin a "transition period" in which they would split their time between the UK and Canada.

Meghan was spotted for the first time since the royal crisis began after she was pictured on a seaplane in Vancouver Island in images published by The Sun on Tuesday evening.

In February, the Mail On Sunday published extracts of Meghan's handwritten letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle.

In one extract, published by the newspaper, the duchess wrote: "Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces – not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand."

Mr Markle was caught up in controversy in the build-up to the 2018 wedding after he allegedly staged paparazzi photographs of himself and then began commenting regularly to entertainment website TMZ about his contact with his daughter.

When the legal action was announced in October, Harry claimed the alleged unlawful publication of the private letter was done in "an intentionally destructive manner" to "manipulate" readers.

In a statement released at the time, a spokeswoman for law firm Schillings claimed the "intrusive" publication of the letter was part of Associated Newspapers' campaign to write "false and deliberately derogatory stories about" Meghan, "as well as her husband".

A statement from Her Majesty The Queen. https://t.co/IVSyfeojqk

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) January 13, 2020

But the Mail On Sunday said it would stand by the story and denied editing the letter to change its meaning.

Meanwhile, it was revealed on Tuesday the duchess did not join the royal summit with the Queen and senior royals by phone and instead relied on her husband to put forward their case.

The move has raised questions over the costs of the couple's security during their time in North America and who would foot the bill.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the costs, and what role they will play in Canadian life, would be the subject of future discussions.

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