LONDON – A British newspaper publisher on Tuesday began its court appeal against a judge's ruling that it invaded the privacy of the Duchess of Sussex by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father, arguing that she knew the letter would potentially be published.
Publisher Associated Newspapers is fighting back against Meghan Markle, 40, who sued it for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that reproduced large portions of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. The letter was written after the American's 2018 marriage to Prince Harry.
A High Court judge sided with the duchess in February, ruling that the paper's publication of the letter was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.”
On Tuesday, lawyer Andrew Caldecott sought to overturn that ruling by arguing that the letter was not written as an “intimate communication for her father's eyes only.”
“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,” the lawyer told the Court of Appeal. He referred to new evidence from Harry and Meghan's former communications secretary, Jason Knauf, suggesting that Meghan suspected her father may disclose the letter to journalists.
Caldecott also argued that the publication of the letter was part of Thomas Markle's right to reply following misleading media reports that alleged he was “cruelly cold-shouldering” his daughter in the run-up to her royal wedding.
The publisher was ordered in March to print a front-page statement stating it had infringed the duchess's copyright, but the statement has not been published pending the outcome of the appeal.
Three senior judges preside over the appeal, which is expected to last three days. A ruling is due at a later date.
Meghan, a former star of the American TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018.
Meghan and Harry announced in early 2020 that they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.