Judges to rule on Mail On Sunday publisher’s appeal over Meghan letter next week

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The Duchess of Sussex (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA) (PA Archive)
The Duchess of Sussex (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA) (PA Archive)

Judges are expected to give their ruling on the publisher of The Mail On Sunday’s bid to overturn the Duchess of Sussex’s victory in their privacy battle over a letter to her estranged father next week.

Meghan 40, sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), also the publisher of MailOnline over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter to Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018.

ANL later brought an appeal against a High Court judge’s decision to grant Meghan summary judgment – meaning she won her case without a trial.

According to court lists published on Friday, the Court of Appeal’s decision on the challenge will be delivered on December 2.

At the three-day hearing earlier this month, ANL argued the case should go to a trial on Meghan’s claims including breach of privacy and copyright.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

Judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean were told that 585 out of 1,250 words had been republished in the five articles.

Meghan’s barristers argued that the letter was “deeply personal” and “self-evidently was intended to be kept private”.

In her written evidence, Meghan denied she thought it likely that her father would leak the letter, but “merely recognised that this was a possibility”.

Jason Knauf, former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claimed in a witness statement that Meghan wrote the letter with the understanding that it could be leaked.

He said that she had sent him an early draft of the letter and that Meghan had written: “Obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice, but please do let me know if anything stands out for you as a liability.”

In further texts released by the court, the duchess can be seen expressing her frustration about the response of the royal family, describing them as “constantly berating” Harry.

The Court of Appeal also heard that Mr Knauf provided information to the authors of Finding Freedom – Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand – leading to Meghan apologising for misleading the court about whether he had given information.

The Court of Appeal judges are expected to give their ruling on Thursday at 10am.

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