Meghan Markle has apologised for ‘misleading’ the court in her privacy case against Associated Newspapers Ltd.
The Duchess of Sussex sued the publisher of the Mail On Sunday over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter sent to her father Thomas Markle in August 2018.
The former Suits star won the case back in February this year, after the High Court ruled ANL’s publication of Meghan’s letter to her father was unlawful.
But now ANL is challenging that ruling at the Court of Appeal, arguing the case should go to a trial on Meghan’s claims including breach of privacy and copyright.
This week, the court heard from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf, who claimed that the letter Meghan had written to her estranged father was done so in the knowledge that he might leak it.
The court also heard of messages between Meghan and Mr Knauf about the drafting of the letter, including whether it should begin by addressing Thomas Markle as “daddy”.
According to a witness statement, Meghan wrote: “Given I’ve only ever called him ‘daddy’ it may make sense to open as such, despite him being less than paternal, and in the unfortunate event that it leaked it would pull at the heartstrings.”
The Duchess also allegedly wrote: “Obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked, so I have been meticulous in my word choice.”
Jason Knauf also told the court that he provided information to Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durant, the authors of the bombshell royal biography Finding Freedom.
In September 2020, Meghan’s lawyers insisted to the court “neither the [duchess] nor her husband co-operated with the authors to put out ‘their version of events”.
In his witness statement, Jason said the book was “discussed on a routine basis”, including “directly with the Duchess multiple times in person and over email”.
He also discussed planning a meeting with the authors to provide background information and said Meghan had given him several briefing points to share with them, including how she had “very minimal contact” with her half-siblings during her childhood.
Emails released as part of Jason’s statement showed he had emailed Prince Harry to discuss the book and say he would meet the authors.
He said the 37-year-old replied: “I totally agree that we have to be able to say we didn’t have anything to do with it. Equally, you giving the right context and background to them would help get some truths out there.”
Meghan’s witness statement, which was made public on Wednesday, saw her apologise for misleading the court about whether Jason Knauf had provided information to the authors.
The 40-year-old said: “I accept that Mr Knauf did provide some information to the authors for the book and that he did so with my knowledge, for a meeting that he planned for with the authors in his capacity as communications secretary.”
“The extent of the information he shared is unknown to me. When I approved the passage…I did not have the benefit of seeing these emails and I apologise to the court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.”
“I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court,” the mother-of-two added.
Meghan said she would have been “more than happy” to refer to the exchanges with her former communications secretary if she had been aware of them at the time.
The former actress added they are “a far cry from the very detailed personal information that the defendant alleges that I wanted or permitted to put into the public domain”.
She also said she did not discover the emails between her and Jason Knauf sooner because the disclosure stage of the litigation had not yet been reached.
The hearing will end today, with judges expected to give their ruling at a later date.