Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle has revealed she suffered “damage and real sadness” as she won a High Court privacy battle over a letter she sent her dad.
Meghan, 39, sued Daily Mail UK publisher, Associated Newspapers Ltd after they published a “heartfelt” handwritten letter purportedly from Meghan to her father, Thomas Markle.
She sued the publication for privacy, copyright and data protection over five articles published in February 2019.
A judge at the High Court in London on Thursday, February 11, granted her a “summary judgment”, which would see the privacy parts of the case resolved without a trial even though she still faces trial over her copyright infringement claims.
In a statement released after the ruling, Meghan thanked her husband Prince Harry and mum Doria Ragland for their support.
She said: “For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships and very real sadness.
“The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.
“But, for today, with this comprehensive win on both privacy and copyright, we have all won.
“I share this victory with each of you – because we all deserve justice and truth, and we all deserve better.
“I particularly want to thank my husband, mom and legal team, and especially (her solicitor) Jenny Afia for her unrelenting support throughout this process.”
At a hearing last month, the court was told Meghan sent the letter to her estranged dad, Thomas, 76, in August 2018.
She was said to have felt forced to write the “painful” letter after they reached “breaking point”.
Her lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke QC described the 1,250-word letter as “a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father”.
But her dad, Thomas Markle claimed the letter was a “criticism” of him.
“[The People quote] suggested to people that Meg had reached out to me with the letter, saying in the letter that she loved me and that she wanted to repair our relationship.
“That suggestion was false. The letter was not an attempt at a reconciliation. It was a criticism of me.
“The letter didn’t say she loved me. It did not even ask how I was. It showed no concern about the fact I had suffered a heart attack and asked no questions about my health.
“It actually signalled the end of our relationship, not a reconciliation.”
Mr Markle also said the article in People magazine wrongly accused him of telling “mistruths” and “contained other inaccuracies about me”.
He said: “It was wrong for People magazine to say I had lied about Meg shutting me out – she had shut me out, as the letter from her showe’
Justice Warby said in his ruling today: “The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the Letter would remain private.
“The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.”
He said “the only tenable justification for any such interference was to correct some inaccuracies about the letter” contained in an article in People magazine which featured an interview with five friends of Meghan.
Mr Justice Warby added: “The inescapable conclusion is that, save to the very limited extent I have identified, the disclosures made were not a necessary or proportionate means of serving that purpose.
“For the most part they did not serve that purpose at all. Taken as a whole the disclosures were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.”
He said the Mail on Sunday’s articles “copied a large and important proportion of the work’s original literary content”.
But he said issues of whether Meghan was “the sole author” – or whether Jason Knauf, formerly communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was a “co-author” – should be determined at a trial.
There will be a further hearing in March to decide “the next steps” in the legal action.
The Daily Mail reacting to the ruling said: “We are very surprised by today’s summary judgment and disappointed at being denied the chance to have all the evidence heard and tested in open court at a full trial.”