Meghan Markle defamation case brought by her half-sister dismissed by judge

Case was brought by Samantha Markle over comments in highly-publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey

Kevin E G Perry
Tuesday 12 March 2024 18:07 GMT
Meghan opens up on bullying she faced on social media while pregnant

A defamation case brought against Meghan Markle by her half-sister, Samantha Markle, has been dismissed by a judge in Florida.

Samantha Markle, 59, brought the legal action over comments Meghan, 42, made to Oprah Winfrey and on her Netflix show, Harry And Meghan.

She will now not be able to refile the case as Florida judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell dismissed it with prejudice.

Ruling in favour of the former Suits actor, the judge said in a 58-page decision that the plaintiff had “failed to identify any statements that could support a claim for defamation or defamation-by-implication”.

Meghan‘s lawyer Michael J Kump, said: “We are pleased with the court’s ruling dismissing the case.”

Samantha Markle, who has the same father as Meghan, claimed the couple’s comments during the high-profile tell-all interview with Winfrey in 2021 were “demonstrably false and malicious lies”.

Meghan Markle in Northern Ireland in 2018
Meghan Markle in Northern Ireland in 2018 (Getty Images)

The duchess told Oprah that she grew up as an only child, and said that her sister changed her surname back to Markle after she began a relationship with Harry.

The judge said Meghan‘s statements could not be defamatory because they were either an opinion, “substantially true based on judicially noticed evidence”, or “not capable of being considered defamatory”.

She went on: “That Plaintiff used one last name and then the name Markle soon after reports of Defendant’s relationship with Prince Harry were published is substantially true, based on the exhibits in the record, of which the Court has taken judicial notice, and the Court cannot reasonably infer otherwise.”

Samantha Markle first brought a defamation case against her younger sister in March 2022, alleging the duchess had defamed her by giving information to an unauthorised biography called Finding Freedom and by discussing their relationship with Winfrey on live television.

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Judge Honeywell found the duchess could not be liable for the contents of the book because she did not publish it, and dismissed the case.

Meghan has reportedly not spoken to her half-sister for years.

Last week, Meghan decried the “toxicity” of social media during a keynote panel at the South by South West (SXSW) festival in Texas on International Women’s Day.

“The toxicity that comes at you, yes, social media is an environment that has a lot of that,” she said. “I keep my distance from it.”

Markle added that while pregnant with her children she found herself baffled by how “catty and cruel” people can be.

“But we also created these habits – what I find to be the most distributing is how much of the hate are women spewing that to other women,” she added. “I can’t make sense of that.”

“Reading something terrible about a woman, why are you sharing it with your friends?,” she asked, “That’s the piece that’s so lost right now.”

“We’ve forgotten about our humanity.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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