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HomeUK NewsMeghan: Court dismisses appeal by Mail on Sunday publisher over duchess' letter...

Meghan: Court dismisses appeal by Mail on Sunday publisher over duchess’ letter to her father

The Duchess of Sussex said a “precedent” had been set after the publisher of The Mail on Sunday was denied its request for a trial over claims it breached her copyright and privacy.

It follows the publication of excerpts of a letter written by Meghan to her father.

Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) was trying to overturn a decision, made by a High Court judge earlier this year, not to go to trial.

Today, the Court of Appeal said it is “hard to see what evidence could have been adduced at trial that would have altered the situation”.

The duchess said: “This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right.

“While this win is precedent-setting, what matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create.”

Meghan added in a statement that from “day one” she had treated the lawsuit as an “important measure of right versus wrong”.

The defendant, she claimed, “treated it as a game with no rules”.

She went on: “The longer they dragged it out, the more they could twist facts and manipulate the public (even during the appeal itself), making a straightforward case extraordinarily convoluted in order to generate more headlines and sell more newspapers – a model that rewards chaos above truth.

“In the nearly three years since this began, I have been patient in the face of deception, intimidation, and calculated attacks.”

Seeking to widen the argument, Meghan said: “As far removed as it may seem from your personal life, it’s not. Tomorrow it could be you. These harmful practices don’t happen once in a blue moon – they are a daily fail that divide us, and we all deserve better.”

Meghan, 40, sued ANL over five articles which reproduced parts of a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.

The duchess won her case earlier this year when a High Court judge ruled in her favour without a full trial – on the basis that ANL’s publication of the letter was unlawful.

But ANL appealed and argued during a three-day hearing last month that the case should go to trial on Meghan’s claims – including breach of privacy and copyright.

The publisher today said it was “very disappointed” by the ruling – and said it is considering appealing to the Supreme Court.

In the judgment published on Thursday, the Court of Appeal assessed whether the previous judgment had been correct.

It upheld the decision that the duchess had a “reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter”.

It added: “These contents were personal, private, and not matters of legitimate public interest. The articles in the Mail on Sunday interfered with the duchess’s reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Referring to the decision made earlier in the year, the court said: “The judge had been in as good a position as any trial judge to look at the article in People magazine, the letter and The Mail On Sunday articles to decide if publication of the contents of the letter was appropriate to rebut the allegations against Mr Markle.

“The judge had correctly decided that, whilst it might have been proportionate to publish a very small part of the letter for that purpose, it was not necessary to publish half the contents of the letter as ANL had done.”

Last month, the court was told the duchess’s letter was “written with public consumption in mind as a possibility”.

Jason Knauf, who was Prince Harry and Meghan‘s media adviser until March 2019, said “the duchess indicated in messages to me that she recognised that it was possible that Mr Markle would make the letter public”.

In her written evidence, Meghan denied she thought it likely that her father would leak the letter, but “merely recognised that this was a possibility”.

The duchess has also apologised for misleading the court over her recollection of the information her aides gave the authors of an unauthorised biography about her and Prince Harry.

A spokesperson for ANL said: “We are very disappointed by the decision of the Court of Appeal.

“It is our strong view that judgment should be given only on the basis of evidence tested at trial, and not on a summary basis in a heavily contested case, before even disclosure of documents.

“No evidence has been tested in cross-examination, as it should be, especially when Mr Knauf’s evidence raises issues as to the Duchess’s credibility.

“After People magazine published an attack on Mr Markle, based on false briefings from the Duchess’s friends wrongly describing the letter as a loving letter, it was important to show that the letter was no such thing.

“Both the letter and People magazine also seriously misrepresented the reasons for Mr Markle’s non-attendance at the royal wedding.

“The articles corrected these matters, and raised other issues of public interest including the reasons for the breakdown in the relationship between the Duchess and her father.

“We are considering an appeal to the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom.”

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