Meghan to get £1 plus undisclosed sum after court fight with Mail On Sunday publisher

The duchess sued Associated Newspapers Limited over five articles that reproduced parts of a letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle

Brian Farmer
Wednesday 05 January 2022 17:35
Screengrab taken from undated handout video issued by Archewell showing the Duchess of Sussex talking with actress Melissa McCarthy during a video released on her 40th birthday to launch 40�40, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. The duchess has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce. Issue date: Wednesday August 4, 2021.
Screengrab taken from undated handout video issued by Archewell showing the Duchess of Sussex talking with actress Melissa McCarthy during a video released on her 40th birthday to launch 40�40, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. The duchess has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce. Issue date: Wednesday August 4, 2021.

The publisher of The Mail On Sunday has agreed to pay the Duchess of Sussex £1 nominal damages for misuse of private information plus an undisclosed sum for copyright infringement after a court privacy battle, a document shows.

Meghan sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), also the publisher of MailOnline over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle in August 2018.

The duchess won her case last year, when a High Court judge ruled in her favour without a full trial, and Court of Appeal judges subsequently dismissed an appeal by Associated Newspapers.

Some detail of the money the duchess will receive emerged on Wednesday, when a written case order, made has been made by appeal judges and summarises the conclusion of the Court of Appeal litigation, was made public.

The appeal judges’ order also said Associated Newspapers would pay the lawyers’ bills run up by the duchess during the appeal litigation.

Judges said those legal costs would be assessed if not agreed.

The Duchess of Sussex (Yui Mok/PA)

Meghan’s spokesperson described the undisclosed sum for copyright infringement as “substantial” and said it would be donated to charity.

They said the duchess was clear from the beginning that this case was primarily about the difference between right and wrong.

The fact that Meghan won on privacy and copyright matters demonstrated the strength of both claims, they said.

The spokesperson added that, after winning the case on a summary judgment, Meghan chose to recover the profit the paper had made from the letter, relating to copyright, rather than a financial remedy of damages regarding the privacy part of the case.

The appeal judges’ order said Associated Newspapers had agreed to pay the £1 nominal damages for misuse of private information, and the “confidential sum” for copyright infringement by January 7.

Judges also said Associated Newspapers should pay £300,000 of the duchess’s legal costs, on account, by the same date.

The judges’ written order was released to journalists by lawyers representing Associated Newspapers.

A lawyer representing the duchess had said, at an earlier stage of the dispute, that she would be willing to cap damages for misuse of private information.

Ian Mill QC said, at a court hearing last year, that Meghan was willing to “cap her damages” for misuse of private information “at a nominal award”, if the court would order “an account of profits”, evidence of how much the publisher gained financially from its publication of the letter, in relation to the infringement of the duchess’s copyright.

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