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‘Anguished’ Meghan wrote letter to dad to ‘deny she was unloving daughter’
January 19, 2021
Meghan Markle 's letter to her estranged dad was written "to defend her against charges of being an uncaring or unloving daughter", the Mail on Sunday's lawyers claimed in the High Court.
Meghan, 39, is suing the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline over articles featuring parts of a handwritten letter sent to 76-year-old Thomas Markle in August 2018.
The Duchess is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act over five articles, published in February 2019, which included extracts from the "private and confidential" letter to her father.
Her lawyers say that Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) publication was a triple-whammy invasion of a "private, personal and sensitive" letter.
But ANL claim Meghan wrote the letter knowing it might come out in the future – and she was "at least in some measure prepared for the information to be disclosed".
At a two-day summary judgment hearing, being heard remotely at the High Court, the Duchess’s lawyers argued there is “no real prospect” of the newspaper winning the case and said it should be resolved without a trial.
Meanwhile, ANL's barrister Antony White QC argued that there is a "very real question" whether Meghan will be able to prove that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
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Mr White referred to the involvement of the Kensington Palace communications team before the letter was sent, saying: "No truly private letter from daughter to father would require any input from the Kensington Palace communications team."
The newspaper’s defence team submitted that Meghan had admitted that she had “a fear” the letter might be intercepted, showing she must “at the very least” have considered her father might share it.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing Meghan, earlier described the letter as "a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father", which was sent to Mr Markle in Mexico.
He said the "contents and character of the letter were intrinsically private, personal and sensitive in nature" and that Meghan therefore "had a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the contents of the letter".
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Mr Rushbrooke added in written submissions: "It is as good an example as one could find of a letter that any person of ordinary sensibilities would not want to be disclosed to third parties, let alone in a mass media publication, in a sensational context and to serve the commercial purposes of the newspaper."
The barrister argued that "there is no real prospect of the defendant establishing that the claimant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the contents of the letter and the defendant's contentions to the contrary are utterly fanciful".
Meghan’s team added that even if ANL was justified in publishing extracts in the public interest, the Mail’s use of the letter was “disproportionate”.
In relation to Meghan's copyright claim, Ian Mill QC, also representing the Duchess, argued that "she and she alone" created a draft of the letter to her father "which she then transcribed by hand".
But Mr White argued there is "a real prospect that the claimant will fail to establish either that she was the sole author in the copyright sense" as a result of the involvement of Jason Knauf, formerly communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in writing the letter.
The full trial of the duchess's claim was due to be heard at the High Court this month, but last year the case was adjourned until autumn 2021 for a "confidential" reason.