The Sussex Team

Meghan wins ruling in Mail on Sunday privacy fight

Hello friends 😁

I am bringing some very joyous news for us today!

MEGHAN WON! 🎉

That’s right. Meghan has won the latest stage in her legal fight against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday. At a short hearing this morning, the Court of Appeal (three senior judges) rejected Associated Newspapers’ attempt to have a trial in the privacy and copyright case and upheld Justice Warby’s February summary judgment. The BBC stated it nicely: She has succeeded in a legal battle that previous generations of royals would probably have avoided.

Meghan vs the Mail On Sunday backround:

Last year, it was revealed that Meghan, with the support of Harry, sued Associated Newspapers Ltd for damages after the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline published excerpts of a letter she had written to her father

Back in February, the judge ruled that the Mail on Sunday’s publication of Meghan’s letter was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful” and in May, Meghan was granted a summary judgment in relation to the remaining parts of her copyright claim, after lawyers acting on behalf of the Queen said it does not belong to the Crown.

Associated Newspapers later brought an appeal against a High Court judge’s decision to grant Meghan summary judgment – meaning she won her case without a trial. At the three-day hearing earlier this month, Associated Newspapers argued the case should go to a trial after the hypocrite Jason Knauf, former communications secretary to Meghan and Harry, claimed in a witness statement that Meghan wrote the letter hoping it would be leaked. The Court of Appeal on the other hand stated 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.” adding: ” The Court of Appeal commented that the new evidence that had been provided to it had also been widely publicized in the press, nationally and internationally.

Meghan issued a statement after the ruling referring to The Mail on Sunday as “The Daily Fail”. Read it below

Meghan Markle win case Statement

A judgment summary was also released summing up everything we need to know:

“The central question in this case was whether the judge, Mr Justice Warby, had been right to grant summary judgment for breach of privacy and breach of copyright to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, against the publishers of the Mail on Sunday newspaper and MailOnline, Associated Newspapers Limited.

The claims related to the publication in the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline (together “Mail on Sunday”) of about half the contents of a 5-page handwritten letter (the Letter) which the Duchess had sent on 27 August 2018 to her father, Mr Thomas Markle (Mr Markle).

The Court of Appeal (Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, giving the lead judgment, with which Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Lord Justice Bean agreed) upheld the judge’s decision 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. The articles in the Mail on Sunday interfered with the Duchess’s reasonable expectation of privacy, and were not a justified or proportionate means of correcting inaccuracies about the Letter contained in an article published on 6 February 2019 in People magazine in the USA.

The key point was that the Mail on Sunday articles focused on revealing the contents of the Letter, rather than providing Mr Markle’s response to the attack on him in People magazine. The headline: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’” and the first line of the Mail on Sunday article: “[t]he full content of a sensational letter written by [the Duchess] to her estranged father shortly after her wedding can be revealed for the first time today” demonstrated that the Mail on Sunday articles were splashed as a new public revelation of extracts from the Duchess’s Letter to her father, rather than her father’s answers to what People magazine had written.

Associated Newspapers argued that the judge had failed to realise how People magazine had traduced Mr Markle by alleging that he had cold shouldered his daughter at the time of the wedding, lied about her shutting him out, and ignored her pleas for reconciliation in a loving Letter [73]. The Court of Appeal found that the judge had been right to decide that just one paragraph of the Letter could have been justifiably deployed to rebut the allegation in People magazine that the Duchess’s letter was loving, when in fact it was a letter reprimanding Mr Markle for talking to the press and asking him to stop doing so.

The Court of Appeal rejected Associated Newspapers’ arguments that the judge had (a) applied the wrong legal test in deciding where the balance lay between the Duchess’s article 8 rights in the Letter and the rights of Mr Markle and Associated Newspapers to freedom of speech under article 10, and (b) failed properly to evaluate Associated Newspapers’ defences to the Duchess’s breach of copyright claim: first, fair dealing in reporting current events, and secondly the public interest in reporting the Letter. It was common ground that the judge had correctly stated the legal principles that were applicable to the question of whether summary judgment should be granted.

The Court of Appeal commented that the new evidence that had been provided to it had also been widely publicised in the press, nationally and internationally. In those circumstances, it decided that the new evidence should be admitted as a matter of pure pragmatism, even though it was more directed to the drafting of the Letter and to what the Duchess knew about the contacts between the Kensington Palace Communications Team and the authors of the book, “Finding Freedom” (the Book), than to the issues in the appeal.

Despite finding the new evidence of little assistance, the Court of Appeal noted that the Duchess had apologised to the court for the pleading served on her behalf that said she did not know if, and to what extent, the Communications Team were involved in providing information for the Book. It had appeared from new evidence from Mr Knauf that he had provided some information to the authors of the Book with the Duchess’s knowledge. The Court of Appeal said that this was, at best, an unfortunate lapse of memory on her part, but did not bear on the issues, and had been given no prominence in Associated Newspapers’ oral argument.

For the detailed reasons given in the judgment of the Master of the Rolls, the judge’s careful decision, mostly on factual questions, was upheld. It was hard to see what evidence could have been adduced at trial that would have altered the situation. The judge had been in as good a position as any trial judge to look at the article in People magazine, the Letter and the Mail on Sunday articles to decide if publication of the contents of the Letter was appropriate to rebut the allegations made against Mr Markle. 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 as Associated Newspapers had done.

The Court of Appeal concluded by reiterating the narrowness of the issues it had to”

You can read the full judgment here

BBC reported:

She’s drawn a line in the sand. Even if her life is of public interest, she’s shown that it doesn’t make her public property. It was a high-risk strategy, which could have put her in court facing awkward questions, but the appeal court ruling has seen her winning without that.

But it’s already come with some bruising headlines – such as having to apologies for having forgotten how information was given to authors writing a book about her and Prince Harry. This might have been an “unfortunate lapse of memory”, said the appeal court ruling, but it didn’t bear on the fundamental issues of whether such a private letter to her father should have been published.

Meghan divides public opinion – with vocal supporters and critics both seeing bias and prejudice on the other side – and this court case is unlikely to change that. But she has succeeded in a legal battle that previous generations of royals would probably have avoided.

If you just zoomed in, you can read my latest blogposts covering episode 1 and episode 2 of the BBC documentary The Princes and Press here.

The first episode charted “the years leading up to and including the engagement and marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” And included “suggestions that courtiers leaked negative stories about the Duchess of Sussex and that there were rivalries between different royal households.”

The second episode recounted the period from Harry and Meghan’s wedding to them stepping down as senior royals – including the birth of Archie and their tour to South Africa, bringing up some important moments in Meghan and Harry’s lives at the time.

5 thoughts on “Meghan wins ruling in Mail on Sunday privacy fight”

    1. Well done Meghan, the judge was right to rule in yr favour. So sad Andorra that your father can’t accept the damage done and put this to bed without further threats of using the media in his personal war of words against you with every ounce of intention to force you to respond in his childish attempts to show he wants to reconcile. If he had any inclined of reconciliation he would have let the dust settle and allow u to heal. Instead he chose to crucify any chance of that.Sad to say your better off without him yr siblings and the RF. Your happy in love with your husband as he is with you , you don’t need the tormentors to hold you back. You can now move forward with yr husband and children and fulfill your dream of happiness, ignoring those who make obstacles in a bid to derail your success in the future. May the Lord bless you both and yr children to keep u safe from all harm. God is with you always.

  1. …”they are a daily fail that divide us…”. Quote from Meghan’s statement. That last line says it all! Well done.

    Meghan looks at her own problems and sees the global implications. She finds the high road that lifts all of us up.

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