Meghan Markle WINS bombshell legal appeal over ‘private’ leaked letter to dad

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Meghan Markle sued Associated Newspapers Limited over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter to Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018

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Meghan Markle wins privacy case appeal against Mail on Sunday

Meghan Markle has won a legal battle with the publisher of The Mail On Sunday over a letter to her estranged father.

The Duchess of Sussex, 40, sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter to Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018.

The actress-turned-royal won her case earlier this 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.

Three senior judges handed their decision on that appeal at 10am on Thursday in which the appeal was dismissed.

Meghan, 40, sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL)

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.”

Explaining the decisions he said: “It was hard to see what evidence could have been adduced at trial that would have altered the situation.

Meghan Markle with her dad Thomas Markle Snr

“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.”

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.

The ruling found there was a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’
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Image:

Getty Images)

“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.”

Judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean were told that 585 out of 1,250 words had been republished in the five articles.

Meghan denied she thought it likely that her father, Thomas Markle Snr (pictured), would leak the letter

Meghan’s barristers argued that the letter was “deeply personal” and “self-evidently was intended to be kept private”.

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”.

Jason Knauf, former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, claimed in a witness statement that Meghan wrote the letter with the understanding that it could be leaked.

He said she sent him an early draft of the letter and had written: “Obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice, but please do let me know if anything stands out for you as a liability.”

In further texts released by the court, the duchess can be seen expressing her frustration about the response of the royal family, describing them as “constantly berating” Harry.

The Court of Appeal also heard that Mr Knauf provided information to the authors of the biography Finding Freedom – Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand – leading to Meghan apologising for misleading the court about whether he had given information.

Meghan told the court: “I apologise to the court for the fact I had not remembered these exchanges … I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court.”

Last month a source close to the Royal Family revealed the monarchy had been left “frustrated” by the privacy lawsuit.

Speaking to the Sunday Times they said: “There is frustration all the way to the top, because a lot of people told them that it was unwise to proceed with the case. Now she has been found out.

“They [the royal family] will think they should never have taken it to court.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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