The Mail on Sunday has lost its appeal against a ruling that it breached privacy and copyright by publishing extracts of a letter sent by the Duchess of Sussex to her father, Thomas Markle.
Associated Newspapers, which owns the Mail on Sunday, had appealed against an earlier court ruling to grant a summary judgement to the Duchess over her claims. They had wanted the matter to go to trial.
On the morning of December 2nd 2021, three Appeal Court judges ruled that the summary judgement should be upheld. They said ”the articles in the Mail on Sunday interfered with the duchess’ reasonable expectation of privacy and were not a justified or proportionate means of correcting inaccuracies about the letter.”
They added that it was difficult to see what evidence included in a trial would change that decision and that while using a small part of the letter might have been admissible, ”it was not necessary to publish half the contents of the letter.”.
The appeal had included a witness statement from Jason Knauf, formerly Communications Secretary to the Duchess of Sussex, which suggested Meghan had written the letter with the knowledge that it could be leaked. The judges said that the revelation that the Duchess had authorised Mr Knauf to meet the authors of ‘Finding Freedom’ and her subsequent apology for forgetting to admit that earlier was ”“an unfortunate lapse of memory” but the admission did not change the decision that her privacy had been breached.
The Duchess of Sussex issued a statement following the ruling, saying ”this is a victory not just for me but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right. 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.”
Meghan added ”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 Duchess also said ”The courts have held the defendant to account and my hope is that we all begin to do the same. Because 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.”
Associated Newspapers said it is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court in the UK.