Meghan Markle Wins Legal Battle Over Letter To Estranged Father

Dec 02, 2021 by apost team

Meghan Markle has just won a "precedent-setting" case against the tabloid The Mail on Sunday over a letter she had written to her father, which was published in the paper. Associated Newspapers, which owns the tabloid, attempted to take the case to trial, but it was rejected by the Court of Appeal since the High Court found in February that the case was so clear cut that going to trial would be unnecessary.

In the privacy and copyright case, a judge had previously ruled in Markle's favor after portions of the letter were published in the newspaper. The letter in question is a personal one that the Duchess of Sussex had written to her father, Thomas Markle, back in Aug. 2018. The case revealed that of the 1,250 words in the "deeply personal" letter, 585 had been republished by The Mail on Sunday in a series of five articles.

Markle claimed a breach of privacy and copyright against the publisher, which led to a three-day hearing in November. While Associated Newspapers' lawyers tried to argue for a full trial, which would have seen Markle take the stand and answer potentially private questions, the three judges decided that the contents of the letter were "personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest." They believed it was difficult to see what new evidence could be shown at a trial to alter the situation.

According to the BBC, the High Court said:

"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."

Meghan Markle (2016), (Brad Barket/Getty Images)

In an official statement, Markle said the win was "not just for (her), but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what's right." The BBC reported that she's "succeeded in a legal battle that previous generations of royals would have probably avoided." In her statement, the duchess said:

“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 ... These harmful practices don't happen once in a blue moon—they are a daily fail that divide us, and we all deserve better.”

She added that "since day one, (she has) treated this lawsuit as an important measure of right versus wrong." She described how the defendant treated it as a "game with no rules" and noted their twisting of facts in order to "manipulate the public." 

It was revealed during the case that Markle had authorized Jason Knauf, her former communications secretary, to cooperate with the writers of a book about her and Prince Harry, which is something she'd previously denied. The defendants also produced a witness statement from Knauf that indicated Markle may have been aware that the letter could be leaked. The former communications secretary said that the duchess had sent him an early draft of the letter to her father and written to him:

"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."

However, Markle denied that she thought her dad would leak the letter and said she had "merely recognised that this was a possibility."

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry (2017), (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

In her statement, Markle referenced the "game" that the defendants had been playing when she wrote:

"In the nearly three years since this began, I have been patient in the face of deception, intimidation and calculated attacks."

She spoke about her win as not only hers but one for society in general. She said:

"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."

The duchess' significant victory in the case makes it known that she has drawn a line in the sand of what is appropriate when it comes to her privacy — that although her life might be of public interest, it doesn't make her public property.

The BBC called it a "high-risk strategy" that could have opened her up in a court trial, but due to the appeal court ruling, she won't have to do that. Nevertheless, she's still faced harsh headlines from some publications, notably the British tabloids, with some suggesting that she should apologize for forgetting that information was given to authors of the book about her and the Duke of Sussex. The court ruling called it an "unfortunate lapse of memory" but didn't believe it to be a fundamental issue related to whether or not the private letter to her dad should have been published.

Despite her win, Markle continues to divide public opinion with both supporters and critics on both sides.

Meghan Markle (2021), (NDZ/Star Max/GC Images)

What do you think about the court ruling in favor of Meghan Markle? Let us know, then pass this on to any royal fans you know so they can stay up to date.

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