1st May, 2020
The Duchess of Sussex has lost the first round in her legal fight with Associated Newspapers.
She dragged the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online to court over alleged breached of privacy after they published excerpts from private correspondence between her and her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
However, on Friday, 1 May, Mr. Justice Warby ruled against the Duchess and her husband, Prince Harry, who had claimed the newspaper had acted dishonestly.
The judge ruled it was “irrelevant”
He added that “Such issues are assessed objectively. The claimant’s arguments that motive and state of mind are among the circumstances to be considered are contrary to Campbell v MGN Ltd (the legal precedent involving supermodel Naomi Campbell).”
The Duchess was outraged when the Mail on Sunday published an article in February 2019.
It was published under 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’.”
At a hearing on 24 April Associated Newspapers’ lawyer, Anthony White QC, had asked the judge to dismiss two aspects of the Duchess’s claim – that the newspaper had acted with “dishonesty” and “malice” in the way it had edited the excerpts and that the publication of the letter excerpts should be considered in the light of nine other articles which were “generally unfavourable to the defendant as one of those tabloid newspapers which had been deliberately seeking to dig or stir up issues between her and her father.”
The Duchess, 38, is seeking compensation under Article 82 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and section 168 of the Data Protection Act 2018.
The Mail Online claimed the letters “revealed she is a ‘narcissistic showman whose self-control is wavering’.”
Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in May 2018 and the couple had a son, Archie, last year but they have consistently complained about British tabloid media intrusion into their private lives and decided recently to move to the US and eschew their royal duties.
As part of the lawsuit, she has launched against Associated Newspapers, the Duchess is demanding all copies of the letter she wrote to her father.
In the hearing on 24 April, Mr Sherborne said the Mail had “harassed and humiliated” Mr Markle, who is 75, and “exposed him as a royal scammer” and then manipulated “this vulnerable man” to get hold of the letter.
Mr White said there had been no dishonesty on the part of the journalist, Caroline Graham – the Mail on Sunday’s US editor, and there was no proof anyone else at the Mail had acted dishonestly.