Great Britain

Meghan Markle’s legal battle back in High Court as Duchess fights for compensation over letter privacy row

MEGHAN Markle's legal battle is back in court today as she fights for damages over a "personal and private" letter to her estranged dad.

The Duchess of Sussex, 39, won her privacy row against the Mail on Sunday in February after it published extracts of a five-page letter she wrote to Thomas Markle.

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She claimed the articles in February 2019, misused her private information, infringed her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.

The latest round in her battle is being heard at the High Court today - with Lord Justice Warby to deal with what "financial remedy" Meghan can pursue at a later hearing.

In March, her lawyers demanded Associated Newspapers Ltd pay Meghan's £1.5million legal fees.

But Lord Justice Warby ordered the Mail on Sunday to pay £450,000 in costs, with the possibility of more to be paid in the future.

He ruled in February the publication of Meghan's letter to her father was "manifestly excessive and hence unlawful".

The judge said: "It was, in short, a personal and private letter.

"The majority of what was published was about the claimant's own behaviour, her feelings of anguish about her father's behaviour, as she saw it, and the resulting rift between them.

"These are inherently private and personal matters."

Meghan was granted a summary judgment - meaning she won her privacy claim without a trial where she would have come face-to-face with her dad.

She also won most of her claim the publication of the letter breached her copyright.

But the issue of whether she was the "sole author" of the letter - or whether Jason Knauf, formerly communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was a "co-author" - still needs to be determined.

LEGAL BATTLE

The judge will now consider how the remaining parts of the copyright issue should proceed and what should happen with her data protection claim.

Associated Newspapers Ltd were ordered to print a a statement on the front page of The Mail On Sunday and a notice on page three of the paper stating it "infringed her copyright" by publishing parts of the letter.

But a statement regarding Meghan's victory in her copyright claim has been put on hold while the publisher seeks permission to appeal.

At the original hearing, the court was told Meghan sent the letter to her estranged dad, 76, in August 2018.

She was said to have felt forced to write the "painful" letter after they reached "breaking point".

And her lawyer Justin Rushbrooke QC described the 1,250-word letter as "a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father".

Releasing a statement after her victory, the duchess said: "For today, with this comprehensive win on both privacy and copyright, we have all won."

A spokesperson for ANL said they were "very surprised" by the ruling.

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