Five things we learnt as Meghan Markle wins privacy appeal against newspaper

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Meghan Markle won a privacy appeal earlier today, over the publication of a "personal and private" letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

Her letter was sent in August 2018 and the contents of it were published by the Mail on Sunday a year later across five different articles.

The Duchess of Sussex then sued Associated Newspapers Limited – the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and the Daily Mail.

Here are some things we've learnt in the past two years since Meghan decided to take Associated Newspapers to court.

Her lawyers had argued that Associated Newspapers has "no prospect" of defending her claim for misuse of private information and breach of copyright.

They asked the High Court to grant "summary judgment" in relation to those claims, a legal step which would see those parts of the case resolved without a full trial.

That was done and Meghan won the privacy claim and the ruling was upheld following an appeal.

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In February this year, Justice Warby ruled that extracts of the 2018 letter from the Duchess of Sussex published by the group the following year were "manifestly excessive and… unlawful".

As a result, he 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.

But that had been on hold while Associated Newspapers challenged whether the judge was right to rule in Meghan's favour without holding a full trial – with the original judgment now being upheld.

In February 2019, an article was published in US People magazine in which a close friend of Meghan's launched a scathing attack on her father.

According to Andrew Caldecott QC, who was representing Associated Newspapers during the appeal hearing last month, it was "perfectly reasonable" that Thomas Markle assumed his daughter was behind the article.

Caldecott added that Thomas Markle felt an urgency to reply to the claims made in said article, as he had been "left in a lonely place" and the magazine had 40million readers a week.

He said: "Either we believe in freedom of expression or we don’t… Thomas Markle has been royally attacked in the People magazine … and this is his reply."

It was revealed last month during the appeal hearing that Meghan had sent a draft of the letter to her former communications chief, Jason Knauf.

She wrote to him: "Obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice."

Knauf provided information to the authors of the Sussex biography Finding Freedom, and that Meghan had provided him with a list of "background reminders" on her life story ahead of his two-hour meeting with them, the court of appeal also heard.

The book had been discussed on a "routine basis" and "directly with the Duchess multiple times in person and over email," Knauf said in a witness statement.

Texts released by the court in November showed Meghan expressing her frustration with the Royal Family, describing them as "constantly berating" Harry over the negative publicity surrounding her father ahead of their wedding.

She wrote to Knauf that this was a "catalyst" for her writing the letter, to "protect" Harry from his family. to "protect" Harry from his family.

  • Meghan Markle
  • Prince Harry
  • Courts

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