Meghan Markle loses first stage of High Court fight against Mail On Sunday publishers, Associated Newspapers
Friday - 01/05/2020 09:12
The Duchess of Sussex’s claims that a newspaper "stirred up" trouble with her dad have been thrown out by a High Court judge.
The Duchess of Sussex has had part of the privacy claim she brought against a tabloid newspaper struck out by London’s High Court on Friday.
Meghan is suing publisher Associated Newspapers over articles its Mail on Sunday newspaper printed in February last year that included parts of a letter she had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
At a hearing last week, the paper’s lawyer argued that allegations it had acted dishonestly and had stoked the family rift should be removed from the case along with references to other articles about the royal that Meghan says were false.
The High Court on Friday agreed to strike out these elements from the claim.
The former actress is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.
On Friday High Court Judge, Mr Justice Warby struck out three of the allegations including that the newspaper acted dishonestly in bad faith, that it “deliberately dug up or stirred up conflict” between Meghan and her dad, and that it had an “agenda to protray her in a damaging light”.
However, Mr Justice Warby said those parts of the duchess's case may be revived at a later stage if they are put on a proper legal basis.
The judge said: "Some of the allegations are struck out as irrelevant to the purpose for which they are pleaded.
"Some are struck out on the further or alternative ground that they are inadequately detailed.
"I have also acted so as to confine the case to what is reasonably necessary and proportionate for the purpose of doing justice between these parties.
"I do not consider that the allegations struck out on that basis go to the 'heart' of the case, which at its core concerns the publication of five articles disclosing the words of, and information drawn from, the letter written by the claimant to her father in August 2018.
"Some aspects of the case that I have struck out at this stage may be revived if they are put in proper form."
Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers over five articles, two in the Mail on Sunday and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to Thomas Markle, 75, in August 2018.
A spokesperson for law firm Schillings, which is representing Meghan, said in a statement: “While the judge recognises that there is a claim for breach of privacy and copyright, we are surprised to see that his ruling suggests that dishonest behaviour is not relevant.
“We feel honesty and integrity are at the core of what matters; or as it relates to the Mail on Sunday and Associated Newspapers, their lack thereof.”
Part of the Duchess’ claims saw Meghan allege Associated Newspapers had been “harassing, humiliating, manipulating and exploiting” Thomas Markle.
David Sherborne, representing the Duchess, accused the publisher of “stirring up” a dispute between Meghan and her father, and argued it “caused the very dispute” that it says, “justifies the publication of this letter”.
Mr Sherborne also said the publisher “deliberately misled the public by presenting a false picture of the letter”.
But Antony White QC, representing Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, argued Meghan had not spoken directly to her father in two years.
He told the court Meghan’s contention that her “vulnerable” father was “harassed and humiliated”, “manipulated” and “exploited” should not form part of her case.
Parts of this article were originally published in The Sun and have been republished here with permission.