Mail on Sunday’s legal battle against ruling over Meghan Markle letter enters final day

Publisher’s lawyers focus on witness statement made by Duchess of Sussex’s former aide

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 11 November 2021 10:24
<p>The Mail on Sunday’s three-day legal bid to overturn a High Court ruling on its publication of a letter sent by Meghan Markle to her father is set to end</p>

The Mail on Sunday’s three-day legal bid to overturn a High Court ruling on its publication of a letter sent by Meghan Markle to her father is set to end

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A newspaper’s three-day legal battle to overturn a High Court ruling on its publication of a letter written by Meghan Markle to her estranged father is set to end today.

The Duchess of Sussex, 40, sued the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter sent to her father Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018.

The High Court ruled earlier this year that ANL’s publication of the letter was unlawful, entering summary judgment for Meghan and avoiding the need for a trial.

But ANL is challenging that ruling at the Court of Appeal, arguing the case should go to a trial on Meghan’s claims including breach of privacy and copyright.

In a witness statement made public on Wednesday, the Duchess of Sussex apologised for misleading the courts after forgetting she asked an aide to brief the authors of an unauthorised biography about her and her husband Prince Harry.

The Court of Appeal heard how Meghan and Harry’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf provided information to the authors of Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand.

Mr Knauf, who worked in the role until March 2019, said the book was “discussed on a routine basis”, which was “discussed directly with the duchess multiple times in person and over email”.

The former aide also discussed planning a meeting with the authors to provide background information and said Meghan had given him several briefing points to share with them, including information on how she had “very minimal contact” with her half-siblings during her childhood.

Emails released as part of Mr Knauf’s witness statement showed he had emailed Harry to discuss the book and to say he would meet the authors.

In her witness statement, Meghan apologised for misleading the court about whether Mr Knauf provided information to Mr Scobie or Ms Durand.

She said: “I accept that Mr Knauf did provide some information to the authors for the book and that he did so with my knowledge, for a meeting that he planned for with the authors in his capacity as communications secretary.

“The extent of the information he shared is unknown to me.

“When I approved the passage...I did not have the benefit of seeing these emails and I apologise to the court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.

“I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court.”

Mr Knauf claimed the handwritten letter was “drafted with the understanding that it could be leaked” to the media.

The former aide also said Meghan had queried whether she should call her father “daddy”, as she always had, in one of the messages the pair had exchanged over it. Meghan said “in the unfortunate event that it leaked it would pull at the heartstrings,” according to Mr Knauf.

The Court of Appeal hearing in front of Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean is due to end on Thursday with a judgment at a later date.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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