Meghan Markle is currently in the process of suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline over an article that reproduced parts of a “private and confidential” handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.
In July, the duchess applied to the High Court to request that five friends who spoke out in her defence in an article published by People in February last year remain publicly anonymous.
The names of the five friends have only been identified in confidential court documents.
Following the ruling on Wednesday 5 August that “for the time being at least” Meghan should be granted an order to protect the identities of the friends in question, her team said they were “happy” that Mr Justice Warby agreed to her request.
A source from the team representing the former Suits actor said: “The Duchess felt it was necessary to take this step to try and protect her friends – as any of us would – and we’re glad this was clear.
“We’re happy that the Judge has agreed to protect these five individuals.”
In the People article published in February last year, the five individuals provided quotes to the publication about the bullying the duchess said she has experienced.
The Duchess of Sussex said she was unaware her friends had spoken to the magazine.
The 39-year-old, who celebrated her birthday on Tuesday 4 August, also denied a claim made by Associated Newspapers Limited that she “caused or permitted” the article to be published.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, who represents the duchess, previously stated in written submissions to the court that forcing Meghan to disclose the identities of her friends would be an “unacceptably high price” to pay.
“To force the claimant, as the defendant urges this court to do, to disclose their identities to the public at this stage would be to exact an unacceptably high price for pursuing her claim for invasion of privacy against the defendant in respect of its disclosure of the letter,” he stated.
“On her case, which will be tried in due course, the defendant has been guilty of a flagrant and unjustified intrusion into her private and family life.”
Anthony White QC, who represents Associated Newspapers Limited, said the friends who spoke to People are “important potential witnesses on a key issue”.
“Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it,” he said.
“No friend’s oral evidence could be fully and properly reported because full reporting might identify her, especially as there has already been media speculation as to their identities.”
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