A British court dismissed an appeal by a tabloid paper against a ruling that it had breached the privacy of Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, by printing parts of a handwritten letter she wrote to her estranged father.
The Mail on Sunday was seeking to overturn a High Court ruling that it breached Ms Markle’s privacy and copyright by publishing parts of the letter she sent to Thomas Markle in August 2018, three months after her wedding to Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson.
The Court of Appeal gave its ruling in the case on Thursday morning.
Ms Markle (40) sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), also the publisher of MailOnline, over five articles that reproduced parts of the letter. She won her case earlier this year when a High Court judge ruled in her favour without a full trial.
However, ANL brought an appeal and, at a three-day hearing in November, argued the case should go to a trial on Ms Markle’s claims against the publisher — including breach of privacy and copyright.
Judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean were told that 585 out of 1,250 words had been republished in the five articles.
Ms Markle’s barristers argued that the letter was “deeply personal” and “self-evidently was intended to be kept private”.
In her written evidence, she denied that she thought it likely that her father would leak the letter, but “merely recognised that this was a possibility”.
Jason Knauf, former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, claimed in a witness statement that Ms Markle wrote the letter with the understanding that it could be leaked.
He said she sent him an early draft of the letter and had written: “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”.
In further texts released by the court, the duchess can be seen expressing her frustration about the response of the royal family, describing them as “constantly berating” Harry.
The Court of Appeal also heard that Mr Knauf provided information to the authors of the biography Finding Freedom — Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand — leading to Mr Markle apologising for misleading the court about whether he had given information. – Reuters/PA