Meghan Markle is suing the Daily Mail over their publication of a private letter from her father. Picture: Getty Images
Meghan Markle is suing the Daily Mail over their publication of a private letter from her father. Picture: Getty Images

Meghan may take the stand against her father, says lawyer

 

Meghan Markle had no contact with her dad Thomas for two years but claims he has been "harassed and exploited" by the press, the High Court heard today.

The Duchess of Sussex has launched legal action against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, after it published a "private and confidential" handwritten note she sent to her father, The Sun reports.

Markle's celebrity barrister, David Sherborne, also indicated that she would probably take the stand at a future trial, saying, 'The defendant [Associated Newspapers] wants to cross-examine her [Meghan] as to whether that belief is reasonable or not - and they can do that'.

Mr Markle has claimed he felt pressured to share the letter after its contents were misrepresented in a US magazine article.

 

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he said: "I have to defend myself. I only released parts of the letter because other parts were so painful. The letter didn't seem loving to me. I found it hurtful."

Meghan Markle on Good Morning America. Picture: GMA
Meghan Markle on Good Morning America. Picture: GMA

Meghan is seeking damages from Associated Newspapers Ltd for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

It is understood Harry and Meghan joined the virtual preliminary hearing from LA today to listen to their lawyers' arguments.

Part of the Duchess' claims saw Meghan allege Associated Newspapers had been "harassing, humiliating, manipulating and exploiting" Thomas Markle.

But Antony White QC, representing Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, today argued Meghan had not spoken directly to her father in two years.

It is understood they have not spoken since before the Royal Wedding in May 2018.

He told Mr Justice Warby: "It appears that the claimant has seen fit to put these allegations on the record without having spoken to Mr Markle, verifying these allegations with him or obtaining his consent (she admits … that she has had no contact with him since the wedding).

"It is therefore highly unlikely that she has any credible basis for these allegations of impropriety towards him, or that proper particulars could be given."

Meghan Markle with her parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland. Picture: Thomas Markle: My Story
Meghan Markle with her parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland. Picture: Thomas Markle: My Story

The letter was sent by Meghan several weeks after she married Prince Harry in May 2018, with Thomas Markle having not attended the ceremony.

The papers' lawyers today asked the preliminary hearing at the High Court to throw out the allegations that the letter had been published with "dishonesty and malicious intent".

In court documents prepared for the hearing, Mr White said the Duchess alleges the publisher was "one of the 'tabloid' newspapers which had been deliberately seeking to dig or stir up issues between her and her father".

He said: "This is an allegation of seriously improper deliberate, i.e. intentional, conduct to the effect that the defendant's motive was to seek to manufacture or stoke a family dispute for the sake of having a good story or stories to publish."

Mr White argued that, such "complex tests of mental state" of the publisher are "irrelevant to the claim for misuse of private information", and asked the judge to strike out that allegation.

 

MEGHAN'S CLAIMS

David Sherborne, counsel for Meghan, argued the paper had been "dishonest and misleading" by omitting to publish parts of Meghan's letter.

In court documents, they argued the publication of the letter was "wholly consistent with the Defendant's obvious agenda of publishing intrusive or offensive stories about the Claimant intended to portray her in a false and damaging light."

Mr Sherborne claimed that the publisher had "harassed" Mr Markle adding that it had "finally manipulated this vulnerable man into giving interviews" which the Duchess's father had later described as "lies and bulls***".

Mr Sherborne accused the publisher of "stirring up" a dispute between Meghan and her father - arguing it "caused the very dispute" that it says "justifies the publication of this letter".

He added that this was about "the distress she feels about the realisation that the defendant has an agenda and that this is not a one-off".

He said: "It's all about distress, it's not about damage to reputation."

Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations - particularly the claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.

Mr White also said Associated Newspapers wrote to Meghan's lawyers on April 6, stating that today's hearing should be avoided if possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and offering not to seek costs if the disputed parts of her claim were withdrawn.

However, he said the Duchess's legal team at Schillings law firm replied on April 16, saying she "considered it was unreasonable to accept the offer".

The letter was published in the Mail on Sunday in February last year after Meghan sent it to her 75-year-old dad, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.

The headline on the article read: "Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan's rift with a father she says has 'broken her heart into a million pieces'."

 

Meghan Markle has not spoken to her father Thomas Markle since before the royal wedding in June 2018. Picture: Supplied
Meghan Markle has not spoken to her father Thomas Markle since before the royal wedding in June 2018. Picture: Supplied

The legal action was announced in October last year in a highly personal statement, in which the Duke of Sussex accused some newspapers of a "ruthless campaign" against his wife.

Referencing his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who was a tabloid newspaper staple and died in a Paris car crash while being pursued by paparazzi, Harry said: "My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.

"I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

Mr Markle has claimed he felt pressured to share the letter after its contents were misrepresented in a US magazine article.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he said: "I have to defend myself. I only released parts of the letter because other parts were so painful. The letter didn't seem loving to me. I found it hurtful."

This story first appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.

Originally published as Meghan may take the stand against her father, says lawyer



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