LONDON: Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle on Friday lost the first round of her High Court battle against the publishers of a UK newspaper, which reproduced excerpts of a letter she wrote to her father.
The 38-year-old former American actress and wife of Prince Harry had filed the claim for alleged breach of privacy and copyright infringement against Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the ‘Mail on Sunday’, in the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
In a ruling on Friday following a preliminary hearing held last week, Justice Mark Warby struck out parts of the claim, including allegations that the newspaper acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.
The judge also struck out allegations that the publisher deliberately “stirred up” issues between the royal and her estranged father Thomas Markle, and that it had an “agenda” of publishing intrusive or offensive stories about her.
“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,” Warby said in his ruling.
“Some aspects of the case that I have struck out at this stage may be revived if they are put in proper form,” he said.
Markle’s law firm Schillings said in a statement that the ruling did not change “the core elements of this case”.
“The Duchess’ rights were violated; the legal boundaries around privacy were crossed,” a spokesperson said.
“The strong case against Associated will continue to focus on the issue of a private, intimate and handwritten letter from a daughter to her father that was published by the ‘Mail on Sunday’.
This gross violation of any person’s right to privacy is obvious and unlawful, and the ‘Mail on Sunday’ should be held to account for their actions,” the spokesperson added.
The case is related to the publication of over five articles, two in the ‘Mail on Sunday’ and three on ‘MailOnline’ in February last year.
The articles reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father six months earlier.
Markle’s legal team claims that the letter was “private and confidential” and “detailed her intimate thoughts and feelings about her father’s health and her relationship with him at that time”.
She is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.
The royal, who is now based in the US with Prince Harry and their son Archie, has previously said any damages she may be awarded if she wins her case will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
Associated Newspapers denies the allegations and is contesting the claims on the ground that Markle had no reasonable expectation of privacy and anticipated publication of the letter.
No date has yet been set for any further hearing in the ongoing case.