Meghan Markle’s lawyer says rumours she bullied staff are ‘absolutely untrue’

‘Knowing her as I do, I can’t believe she would ever do that,’ Jenny Afia says of the claims

Saman Javed
Friday 07 January 2022 15:00 GMT
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Meghan Markle arriving at Windsor Castle
Meghan Markle arriving at Windsor Castle (Getty Images)

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The Duchess of Sussex’s lawyer has said that the term bullying is used “very, very casually” and can be damaging for “career women”.

Jenny Afia, the head of legal at Schillings – the law firm which represented Meghan Markle in recent court wins against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) – said allegations of bullying against the Duchess do not “match my experience of her”.

In March 2021, days before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey aired, The Times reported that the Duchess had faced a bullying complaint by one of her aides during her time at Kensington Palace.

The complaint, by former communications secretary Jason Knauf, alleged that Meghan drove out two personal assistants and “humiliated” a third member of staff.

Buckingham Palace later launched an investigation and invited past and present employees to speak about their experiences of working for the royal.

During an episode of the BBC’s Harry, Meghan and the Media podcast, host Amol Rajan asked Afia if the claims were true.

“No, absolutely not. And I think first thing is to be really clear about what bullying is,” she said.

“So the term gets used very, very casually. My daughter called me a bully last week when I asked her to brush her teeth – she’s seven years old.

“It’s a very very damaging term as we know, particularly I think, for career women.

“What bullying actually means is improperly using power repeatedly and deliberately to hurt someone, physically or emotionally.”

Afia said the Duchess “absolutely denies” ever bullying anyone, adding: “Knowing her as I do, I can’t believe she would ever do that. I wasn’t there at the time, but it just doesn’t match my experience of her at all and I’ve seen her [at] very, very stressful times.

“So that story is absolutely untrue that she is a bully – that said, she wouldn’t want to negate anyone’s personal experiences.”

The details of Buckingham Palace’s investigation are yet to be disclosed.

In February 2021, a High Court ruled that ANL had unlawfully published portions of a private letter that Meghan had written to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

ANL brought an appeal against the decision, but this was dismissed in December 2021. Affirming the earlier ruling, High Court judges said the letter was “personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest”.

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