LONDON – A British judge on Thursday granted a request by the Duchess of Sussex to postpone the trial of her privacy lawsuit against a British newspaper publisher, and said the reason for the delay should remain secret.
During a hearing in London, judge Mark Warby granted the application to delay the trial for around nine months, from a scheduled Jan. 11 start date to October or November 2021. The exact date will be set later.
The decision followed a hearing held in private, and Warby said the reason for the delay request should be kept confidential.
The former Meghan Markle, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that published portions of a handwritten letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, after her marriage to Britain’s Prince Harry.
Associated Newspapers is contesting the claim at the High Court in London. The publisher did not resist the application to delay, but said the case was causing anxiety to 76-year-old Thomas Markle, who has health problems but intends to come to London to testify at the trial.
“He continues to feel that he has been misrepresented and that the claimant should not be pursuing this claim,” the publisher’s group editorial legal director, Liz Hartley, said in a written witness statement.
“He is anxious that he should have his day in court so that he can tell the truth in public, have his evidence tested under cross-examination and defend himself against the suggestion that he breached the claimant’s privacy without any reasonable justification.”
Markle, an American actress and star of TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, one of the grandsons of Queen Elizabeth II, in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year.
Early this year, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.