The Duchess of Sussex sued Associated Newspaper Ltd (ANL), the publisher of The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline over several printed news articles which published portions of a handwritten letter she sent her father back in August 2018.
She’s been seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act over five articles, which were published in February 2019 and included extracts of the letter.
The whole case was scheduled to be heard at the High Court this month, but the matter was postponed until autumn 2021 due to a private reason.
Mr Justice Warby decreed that publishing Meghan’s letters to her father was manifestly excessive and therefore unlawful, and the judge said that it was, in short, a personal and private letter.
The preponderance of what was printed was about the claimant’s behaviour, her feelings of distress about her father’s behaviour, as she saw it, and the resulting rift between them, and Mr Justice Warby said that these were essentially private and personal matters.
He ruled that the claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private, and he stated the Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.
The judge continued that there was no possibility that a different judgment would be reached following the trial. Mr Justice Warby also determined that the publication of the letter did violate her copyright.
However, the judge added the issue of whether Meghan was the sole author of the letter or Jason Knauf, formerly communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was co-author should be decided at a trial.
He said the court was satisfied, however, that there should be a case restricted to matters relating to the ownership of copyright.
After the decision was announced, the Duchess of Sussex said in a statement that after two long years of pursuing litigation, she was thankful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their legal and dehumanising methods.
She said that those tactics and those of their sister publications MailOnline and the Daily Mail were not new and that in fact, they’d been going on for far too long without consequences.
And that for those outlets, it was a game, but for her and so many others, it was real life, real relationships, and real sadness because of the damage that they’ve done and proceeding to do that runs deep.
It seems the media goes way too far. What the world needs is reliable, fact-checked, high-quality news, but all we get these days is misleading information, witch hunts and nonsense, but they will continue to print more Meghan Markle stories and feed them to the public because it’s the way the newspaper industry and social media works. After all, interaction means interest, and nothing stays secret for long, it always gets out in the end.
This letter was a private correspondence between father and daughter. However, where does one draw the line between using the newspapers to wash one’s soiled linen in public to get the side of the story they’re thrilled to share and then they cry foul play, where some little titbit is published from the other side, and if you play with fire, you get burnt in the process.
Meghan Markle may have won the battle for now but she’s yet to win the war, but perhaps that war is not just from the newspapers but also British gossipers and hypocrites.
Harry and Meghan aren’t in exile, they just want to live their lives and not be scrutinised by someone or the newspapers every time they go out of their home – after all, that’s what’s meant when you say a private life, but when on social media then they must expect some backlash somewhere by someone.