04 Oct PRIVACY – MEGHAN MARKLE SUES THE MAIL ON SUNDAY OVER LETTER TO FATHER
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has initiated legal proceedings against The Mail on Sunday over its publication of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
The claim, an unusual move for the Royal Family, is being brought against the newspaper group in the Chancery Division of the High Court and will be privately funded by the couple.
Markle alleges that the publication of the letter was a misuse of private information, an infringement of copyright and a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
The action was accompanied by a robust statement from Prince Harry in which he said he had been a “silent witness” to the “private suffering” of the Duchess and accused the tabloid media of waging a “ruthless” campaign that had “escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son”.
Prince Harry said coverage of their recent tour of Africa, which has been largely positive, exposed “the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave”.
“She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you’ve seen on this Africa tour.
“For these select media, this is a game and one we have been unwilling to play from the start.”
Schillings, the law firm instructed by the Duchess, said “We have initiated legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday, and its parent company Associated Newspapers, over the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter written by the Duchess of Sussex, which is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband.
“Given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy, infringement of copyright and the aforementioned media agenda.”
The Mail on Sunday said the newspaper “stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously”.
“Specifically, we categorically deny that the duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning,” they added.
Because the claim was issued in the Chancery Division, rather than in the Queen’s Bench Division’s specialist Media and Communications List, which was formally established on 1 October, the claim may be heard by the same judge who has overseen the phone-hacking litigation against The Daily Mirror and The Sun.
Whatever the outcome, both the nature of the claim and the critical tone of Prince Harry’s statement suggest that the litigation will be a watershed moment in relations between the Prince and his wife and the British media.