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Meghan Markle faces new challenge in high-profile privacy case

Meghan Markle’s letter to her father – which was published by the Mail on Sunday – was “written with public consumption in mind as a possibility”, the Court of Appeal has heard.

The Duchess of Sussex won her privacy case against Associated Newspapers Ltd back in February for the alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

The former Suits star’s estranger father Thomas received the letter in August 2018, months before sections of it were published in the UK Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline in February, 2019.

Thomas Markle

Earlier this year, High Court judge Mr Justice Warby granted Meghan “summary judgement” in her claim for misuse of private information.

Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) began its appeal on Tuesday against the decision that the publication of the letter was “unlawful”.

Lawyers for the publisher told senior judges they wanted to rely on new evidence from Jason Knauf, who was communications secretary to the Meghan and her husband Prince Harry, which suggests Meghan suspected her father might disclose the letter to the media.

Andrew Caldecott QC, representing the publisher, said Mr Knauf’s evidence casts doubt on the basis of the judge’s ruling.

An old photo of Meghan and her father Thomas

He told the court: “We read the judgment as implicitly accepting that the letter was crafted as an intimate communication for her father’s eyes only. The fundamental point turns out to be false on the new evidence.”

“The letter was crafted specifically with the potential of public consumption in mind because the claimant appreciated Mr Markle might disclose it to the media.”

Andrew Caldecott added that Meghan “made no effort to correct” an article in People magazine in the US, which featured an interview with five of her friends, and that Thomas Markle had “considered the article to be a serious attack on him”.

He said: “The defendant submits it has a strongly arguable case that by the time of publication of the articles the claimant no longer had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the text of the letter bearing in mind among other things that it was written with public consumption in mind, as at least a possibility.”

“Or if she did such a right has been diminished and is outweighed by Mr Markle’s right of reply, the need for correction and the wider public interest.”

The barrister also said the case should have gone to a trial rather than be settled by a ruling from Justice Warby. Meghan’s legal team are opposing the appeal and argue that the judge reached the right conclusions on the evidence before him.

The hearing will continue today and on Thursday, and the judges are expected to give their ruling at a later date.


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