UK court backs Meghan Markle in dispute over privacy with publisher

Published 03 Dec, 2021 10:54am

The duchess 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'.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

The Duchess of Sussex won the latest stage in her privacy lawsuit against a British newspaper on Thursday, when three senior judges ruled its publisher breached her privacy by reproducing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.

The duchess formally known as American actress Meghan Markle said the Court of Appeal ruling was a victory of “right versus wrong.” She issued a call to “reshape a tabloid industry” that has long been the bane of both celebrities and British royals.

Losing claimant Associated Newspapers said it was considering an appeal to the UK Supreme Court.

Britain’s High Court ruled in February that the publisher of The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline website unlawfully breached Meghan’s privacy with five articles that reproduced a large chunk of a handwritten letter she sent her father, Thomas Markle, after she married Prince Harry in 2018.

The publisher appealed, and a hearing was held last month. Dismissing the appeal, senior appeals judge Geoffrey Vos said 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, 40, 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.”

“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,” she said.

Previously, Court of Appeal said it would take time to give its ruling in the privacy battle between Meghan and the tabloid paper. During the hearings, lawyers for the Mail argued that Meghan had penned the letter in the knowledge it was not a simple private missive to her father but could become public.

In the earlier trial, Meghan's lawyers had denied that possibility. However, during the appeal, the Mail's lawyers produced a witness statement from her former communications chief Jason Knauf which they said cast doubt on those accounts.

"I apologise 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," the duchess said in a witness statement.