The Duchess of Sussex sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), the owner of the Mail on Sunday, over five articles that reproduced parts of a ‘personal and private’ letter to her dad Thomas Markle
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Meghan Markle will receive just £1 in damages from the Mail on Sunday after winning legal action against the paper for publishing a private letter to her estranged dad, it is reported.
The Duchess of Sussex sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) for invading her privacy over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter to Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018.
She won the case in 2021 and the nominal sum – reported by the Guardian, citing court documents – now confirms the Mail on Sunday and its sister website MailOnline have accepted defeat.
The outlet will also have to pay an unspecified sum for the separate case of infringing the Duchess’s copyright after publishing large chunks of the letter.
The nominal settlement for the invasion of privacy case may suggest a weakness in that aspect of Meghan’s case, a media lawyer told the Guardian.
Mark Stephens told the paper: “Normally for that kind of invasion of privacy you would expect £75,000 to £125,000. It does show that the curation of her reputation was an area where she had effectively invaded her own privacy.”
ANL has also agreed to pay a confidential sum in damages for copyright infringement.
Furthermore, the Mail on Sunday faces covering part of the actress-turned-royal’s legal costs – which could be more than £1m.
The Mail outlets have also been ordered to not disclose the names of the five pals who spoke anonymously to People magazine in 2018 about the letter, it is reported.
The paper and website had previously tried to name the individuals in legal proceedings.
Both the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline were ordered to publish front and homepage declarations that they had lost the case – and the court even specified the size of the font it had to be in.
They published these declarations on Boxing Day.
Meghan has always maintained that her legal battle was more about principle than money.
The actress-turned-royal won her case last year when a High Court judge ruled in her favour without a full trial.
But ANL brought an appeal and, at a three-day hearing in November, argued the case should go to a trial on Meghan’s claims against the publisher – including breach of privacy and copyright.
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Three senior judges decided to dismiss the appeal.
Giving a summary of the decision, judge Sir Geoffrey Vos said: “The Court of Appeal upheld the judge’s decision that the duchess had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter.
“Those contents were personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest.
“The articles in the Mail on Sunday interfered with the duchess’ reasonable expectation of privacy and were not a justified or proportionate means of correcting inaccuracies about the letter.”
Responding to the ruling, Meghan said in a statement: “This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right.
“From day one, I have treated this lawsuit as an important measure of right versus wrong. The defendant has treated it as a game with no rules.
“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.”
The duchess’s statement continued: “The courts have held the defendant to account and my hope is that we all begin to do the same.
“Because 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.”