Meghan Markle and Prince Harry receive apology over drone photos taken of son Archie in LA home

Royal couple said the images were an invasion of privacy

Sarah Young
Friday 09 October 2020 09:47
Meghan Markle says what she says is 'not controversial'

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have received an apology from a US news agency after drones were allegedly used to take “intrusive and illegal” pictures of their son Archie, the couple's lawyer has said.

Meghan and Harry launched legal action against the agency in July claiming an individual had photographed Archie, who was then 14 months old, at their home in Los Angeles during lockdown.

The couple said the images were an invasion of privacy.

On Thursday, the royal couple’s lawyer Michael Kump, of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP, said the agency responsible, X17, had apologised to Meghan and Harry and agreed to pay a portion of their legal fees.

“Over the summer, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex took action against intrusive and illegal paparazzi photos taken of their family at a private residence,” Mr Kump said.

“Today, the agency responsible for those photos - X17 - apologised and agreed to a permanent injunction and reimbursement of a portion of legal fees.

“This is a successful outcome. All families have a right, protected by law, to feel safe and secure at home.”

Court documents from the Los Angeles County Superior Court said that the photos were of Archie and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland.

In addition to the apology, X17 has agreed to turn over the photos to the family, destroy any copies in its archives or databases and never again traffic in any photos of the couple or their son taken by drone, zoom or telephoto lenses “in any private residence or the surrounding private grounds”.

In their lawsuit the duke and duchess claimed they lived “unmolested” in North Saanich, Canada, for six weeks before the media published their new location, leading to “up to 40 paparazzi and media organisations descending on this peaceful community from hundreds of miles away”.

Their move to Los Angeles earlier this year to the “gated community at the generosity of a friend” was similarly exposed, the couple said, resulting in further distress.

Drones have been flown 20ft above their house as often as three times a day, according to the lawsuit, while some of the pictures of Archie have been sold.

Helicopters have also flown over the residence as early as 5.30am and as late as 7pm, the legal papers say, which had the effect of “waking neighbours and their son, day after day”.

Holes were also cut into the security fence by photographers, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was prompted by “the relentless and quite frankly shocking efforts of the tabloid media” to “profit from serial intrusions” on Archie's privacy, it adds. The former royal couple want to do what is “necessary to protect their children from this manufactured feeding frenzy”.

The lawsuit cites California's privacy laws, which make photographing or filming anyone in their homes by use of drone or telephoto lenses illegal.

Because the couple do not know who took the pictures, the lawsuit initially targeted unnamed defendants, which allowed the couple to pursue, through subpoenas, anyone selling the images.

Harry and Meghan – who stepped down from their senior roles in the royal family in March –  added that they are not seeking any “special treatment whatsoever“ and simply want the right to privacy.

The lawsuit is the latest example of the couple's war against what they describe as an intrusive tabloid media.

In a separate legal action, Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, for breach of privacy and copyright infringement over the publication of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. The publisher denies the duchess’s claims.

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