Meghan Markle hopes for abstract ruling over ‘critical breach’ of privateness

London, January 19

The lawyers for Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex as the wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, returned to the High Court in London on Tuesday as part of her legal case alleging “serious breach” of privacy against the Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over articles including extracts of a letter to her father.

Justice Mark Warby began hearing the case remotely as the 39-year-old former actress’ legal team sought a summary judgment in the case, which would avert the need for a full-blown trial.

The hearing for summary judgment had been agreed last year after Markle’s lawyers argued for the whole case to be dismissed on the basis that the evidence in her favour is “overwhelming”.

“At its heart it’s a very straightforward case about the unlawful publication of a private letter,” said barrister Justin Rushbrooke, in reference to an August 2018 handwritten letter to her 76-year-old father Thomas Markle, which appeared in the ‘Mail on Sunday’ newspaper.

He categorised it as a “heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter” begging her father to stop talking to the press.

While Markle’s barrister described the publication of the private correspondence as “a triple-barrelled invasion of her privacy rights”, ANL lawyers claim it was written as a defensive action.

“There is a very real question as to whether the claimant will be able to establish that she had a reasonable – or any – expectation of privacy,” said ANL barrister Antony White.

Markle is suing ANL, publisher of the ‘Mail on Sunday’ newspaper, for breach of copyright, infringement of her privacy, and breaches of the Data Protection Act over articles using parts of the letter in the newspaper and then online.

Associated Newspapers denies the allegations, particularly the Duchess’ claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and maintains it will strongly contest the case.

In October 2020, Justice Warby had ruled that the trial in the case, due to be held this month, would be adjourned for a “confidential” reason until later in the year. The outcome of Tuesday’s hearing will now determine the next steps in the case.

Markle, meanwhile, remains in the US where she and husband Prince Harry had relocated to with their one-year-old son Archie after stepping back as frontline royals last year. — PTI

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