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The Sussexes

The Duchess of Sussex loses first battle in the High Court against the Mail on Sunday


Charlie Proctor/Royal Central

The Duchess of Sussex has suffered a major setback in her court battle against the Mail on Sunday over the publication of a “private and confidential” letter to her father.

The judge has thrown out parts of the Meghan’s privacy claim against Associated Newspapers following a preliminary hearing.

Elements of the case thrown out include claims that the newspaper acted dishonestly, and in bad faith, that the Mail on Sunday “deliberately dug up or stirred up conflict” between Meghan and her Dad, and that the paper had an “agenda” to portray her in damaging light.”

The Duchess will not be appealing the decision and a date for the full hearing has yet to be set.

Meghan is suing Associated Papers over five articles which were published in February 2019. These stories, published in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, reproduced parts of a letter she wrote to Thomas Markle shortly after her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.

During a preliminary hearing last month, lawyers representing the 38-year-old royal claimed that the published “stirred up” a dispute between her and her father.

However, Mr Justice Warby struck out the claim saying that the publisher’s motive is not relevant when bringing a privacy claim.

Furthermore, litigating the issues would be disproportionately complicated, and elements were introduced to the court in a way that did not meet some procedural requirements.

A spokesperson for Schillings, the law firm representing the Duchess, said: “Today’s ruling makes very clear that the core elements of this case do not change and will continue to move forward.

“The duchess’ rights were violated; the legal boundaries around privacy were crossed.

“As part of this process, the extremes to which The Mail on Sunday used distortive, manipulative, and dishonest tactics to target The Duchess of Sussex have been put on full display.

“Whilst 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.

“Nonetheless, we respect the judge’s decision as the strong case against Associated will continue to focus on the issue of a private, intimate and hand-written 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 duchess is suing Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement, allegations which Associated Newspapers denies.

The publisher argues that the had no reasonable expectation of privacy and that she anticipated publication of the letter.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Warby wrote: “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.”