A British court rejected an appeal by a newspaper publisher seeking to overturn an earlier ruling that it had violated the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy by publishing portions of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
The Court of Appeal in London upheld a High Court ruling in February that the publication of a letter written by former actress Meghan Markle to her father, Thomas Markle, after her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018 was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.”
The publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline website filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal, which heard the case last month. Judge Geoffrey Vos dismissed the appeal during a brief hearing on Thursday 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.”
In a statement, Meghan said the ruling was “a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right.”
She added: “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.”
Associated Newspapers disputed Meghan’s claim that she didn’t intend for the letter to be seen by anyone other than her father. They claimed that correspondence between her and her then-communications secretary, Jason Knauf, disclosed that she suspected her father would leak the letter to journalists and wrote it with that in mind.
The publisher also argued that publishing the letter was part of Thomas Markle’s right to respond following a People magazine interview with five of Meghan’s friends alleging that he was “cruelly cold-shouldering” his daughter in the run-up to her royal wedding.
However, Vos claimed that the article, which the Mail on Sunday described as “sensational,” was “splashed as a new public revelation” rather than focusing on Thomas Markle’s response to negative media reports about him.
Associated Newspapers argued in its appeal that Meghan made private information public by working with Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, authors of the sympathetic book “Finding Freedom” about her and Harry.
Previously, the duchess’ lawyers denied that she or Harry had collaborated with the authors. Knauf, on the other hand, testified in court that he gave the writers information and discussed it with Harry and Meghan.
Knauf’s evidence, which had previously gone unnoticed, was a dramatic turn in the long-running case.
Meghan, 40, responded by apologizing for misleading the court about the extent of her collaboration with the book’s authors.
The duchess stated that she did not recall her discussions with Knauf when she gave evidence earlier in the case, “and I apologize to the court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.”
“I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court,” she said in a written statement.
Meghan Markle, a former star of the American tv legal drama “Suits,” married Prince Harry, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, in May 2018 at Windsor Castle.
The couple announced in early 2020 that they were leaving royal duties and moving to North America, citing the British media’s unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes. They’ve moved to Southern California with their two young children.
Meghan strongly condemned Associated Newspapers in a statement released on Thursday for treating the lawsuit as “a game with no rules.” She said she had been subject to “deception, intimidation and calculated attacks” in the three years since the lawsuit began.
“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,” she said.