Mail on Sunday loses privacy battle over Duchess of Sussex’s letter to father

The Court of Appeal last week upheld Lord Justice Warby's “careful” decision to grant the Duchess of Sussex a summary judgement against Associated Newspapers over publication of a letter to her estranged father, rejecting the Mail on Sunday publisher's call for a full trial.

Mail on Sunday loses privacy battle over Duchess of Sussex’s letter to father
A spokesperson for Associated Newspapers said they were “very disappointed” by the ruling.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean found Meghan had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” regarding the letter, and concluded it was “hard to see what evidence could have been adduced at trial that would have altered the situation”.

Vos said, “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.”

“This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right,” said the Duchess of Sussex in a statement made after the ruling.

She added, “While this win is precedent-setting, 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.

“From day one, I have treated this lawsuit as an important measure of right versus wrong. The defendant has treated it as a game with no rules.

“The longer they dragged it out, the more they could twist facts and manipulate the public (even during the appeal itself), making a straightforward case extraordinarily convoluted in order to generate more headlines and sell more newspapers - a model that rewards chaos above truth.”

“In the nearly three years since this began, I have been patient in the face of deception, intimidation, and calculated attacks.

“Today, the courts ruled in my favour - again - cementing that The Mail on Sunday, owned by Lord Jonathan Rothermere, has broken the law.”

The Duchess said, “As far removed as it may seem from your personal life, it’s not. Tomorrow it could be you. These harmful practices don’t happen once in a blue moon - they are a daily fail that divide us, and we all deserve better.”

A spokesperson for Associated Newspapers said they were “very disappointed” by the ruling.

“It is our strong view that judgement should be given only on the basis of evidence tested at trial, and not on a summary basis in a heavily contested case, before even disclosure of documents,” they said in a statement.

“No evidence has been tested in cross-examination, as it should be, especially when Mr Knauf’s evidence raises issues as to the duchess’s credibility.

“After People magazine published an attack on Mr Markle, based on false briefings from the duchess’s friends wrongly describing the letter as a loving letter, it was important to show that the letter was no such thing.

“Both the letter and People magazine also seriously misrepresented the reasons for Mr Markle’s non-attendance at the royal wedding.

“The articles corrected these matters, and raised other issues of public interest including the reasons for the breakdown in relationship between the duchess and her father.

“We are considering an appeal to the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom.”

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