Meghan Markle wins new round of privacy legal battle in UK

LondonMeghan Markle on Thursday won the latest round of her legal battle over privacy against the publishers of the Mail on Sunday newspaper as a UK court turned down an appeal against a previous ruling in her favour, welcomed by the Duchess of Sussex as setting an important “precedent”.

The Court of Appeal judges rejected the Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) attempt to have a trial over its publication of extracts from Markle’s letter to her father, which the judges concluded was “personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest”.

Earlier this year, a UK High Court judge had already ruled in favour of the Duchess in the privacy and copyright case, and rejected the need for a full trial. Now, that decision has been upheld.

“This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right,” Markle, the wife of Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex, said in a statement.

“While this win is precedent setting, what matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create,” she said.

The 40-year-old, now based in the US with Harry and her two young children Archie and Lilibet, claimed that from “day one”, she had treated the lawsuit as an “important measure of right versus wrong” while the newspaper group had “treated it as a game with no rules”.

She added: “The longer they dragged it out, the more they could twist facts and manipulate the public (even during the appeal itself), making a straightforward case extraordinarily convoluted in order to generate more headlines and sell more newspapers – a model that rewards chaos above truth.”

“In the nearly three years since this began, I have been patient in the face of deception, intimidation, and calculated attacks.”

“As far removed as it may seem from your personal life, it’s not. Tomorrow it could be you. These harmful practices don’t happen once in a blue moon they are a daily fail that divide us, and we all deserve better.”

In the judgment published on Thursday, the Court of Appeal assessed whether the previous judgment had been correct. It upheld the decision that the duchess had a “reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter”.

It notes: “These contents were personal, private, and not matters of legitimate public interest. The articles in the ‘Mail on Sunday’ interfered with the Duchess’s reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Referring to the decision made earlier in the year, the court said: “The judge had correctly decided that, whilst it might have been proportionate to publish a very small part of the letter for that purpose, it was not necessary to publish half the contents of the letter as ANL had done.”

The ruling follows a hearing last month when the Court of Appeal was told that the Duchess’ letter to her father, Thomas Markle, was written with public consumption in mind.

Lawyers for ANL had produced a witness statement from Markle’s former communications secretary, Jason Knauf. In her written evidence, Markle denied she thought it likely that her father would leak the letter, but “merely recognised that this was a possibility”.

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