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UK Court to Rule on Meghan Privacy Case Appeal

UK Court to Rule on Meghan Privacy Case Appeal

Thursday, 2 December, 2021 - 07:30
Meghan won a ruling in February that Associated Newspapers had breached her privacy by publishing extracts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father before her marriage to Prince Harry (AFP/Jeremy Selwyn)

A UK court will rule on Thursday on a newspaper group's appeal against a previous judgement that it breached Meghan Markle's privacy by publishing extracts of a letter to her estranged father.


In a long-running legal battle, Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and MailOnline, is appealing against a lower High Court decision that the letter deserved privacy protections.


A judge in February ruled that extracts of the 2018 letter from the Duchess of Sussex published by the group the following year were "manifestly excessive and... unlawful".


The judge ordered Associated Newspapers to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds in interim legal costs and to print a front-page statement acknowledging her legal victory, said AFP.


But that has been on hold while it challenges whether the judge was right to rule in Meghan's favor without holding a full trial.


Associated argues that Meghan wrote the correspondence to Thomas Markle knowing it was likely to be leaked, and despite claiming the opposite.


"The letter was crafted specifically with the potential of public consumption in mind because the claimant appreciated Mr. Markle might disclose it to the media," a lawyer for the publishers argued in the Court of Appeal last month.


The letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle was written a few months after she married Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Prince Harry.


In it, she asked him to stop talking to tabloids and making false claims about her in interviews.


- Biography controversy -


Meghan, 40, and 37-year-old Harry, who now live in the United States after stepping down from frontline royal duties last year, have taken legal action against a number of publications, alleging invasion of privacy.


In its appeal, Associated Newspapers has relied in part on new testimony from Meghan's former communications adviser.


Last month, Meghan apologized to the court after admitting she had allowed Jason Knauf to brief the authors of a favorable biography of her short tenure as a frontline royal in Britain, despite previous denials on the matter.


The publishers submitted a witness statement from Knauf which outlined that he had provided information to the authors of the biography, "Finding Freedom".


The best-selling book was "discussed on a routine basis" and "directly with the duchess multiple times in person and over email", Knauf added.


In her own witness statement, Meghan apologized for misleading the court, accepting that she had forgotten that he had provided some information to, and even met with, the authors with her "knowledge".


"The extent of the information he shared is unknown to me," she added, noting she had "absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court".


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