LONDON – A British court has ordered The Mail on Sunday to pay undisclosed financial damages to the Duchess of Sussex after ruling in her favor in a long-running copyright infringement case.
The newspaper has confirmed that, following hearings in January and May, the court has given judgment for Meghan Markle to receive money from the Mail’s parent company, Associated Newspapers.
Markle had taken Associated Newspapers to court nearly three years ago for invading her privacy and infringing her copyright by publishing extracts of her handwritten letter to her father in The Mail on Sunday and in Mail Online.
The Mail on Sunday confirmed that “financial remedies” had been agreed, but did not disclose the amount. The settlement ruling brings the case to an end and means that it will not be heard in the British Supreme Court.
Earlier in the year the judge, Mr. Justice Warby, had granted Markle “summary judgment,” in the privacy part of the case, meaning it was resolved with no need for a trial.
As reported, The Mail on Sunday had published a handwritten letter from Markle to her father Thomas Markle, prompting the lawsuit in late 2019. The suit was filed shortly before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex relinquished their royal duties and moved to North America.
The article’s headline read: “Revealed: The letter showing the true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces.’” The newspaper had obtained the letter from Thomas Markle, and published it in five installments in print and online in early 2019.
Earlier this year the judge had described the letter as containing “inherently private and personal matters” and argued that a trial would have resulted in the same conclusion.
In May, the judge once again granted summary judgment in Markle’s favor with regard to the copyright claim. The Mail on Sunday unsuccessfully appealed the ruling, and then eventually agreed to settle the case.
The newspaper’s lawyers had argued that Markle co-authored the letter with a member of the royal family staff, and it was, therefore, the property of the British monarch.
But the member of staff, Jason Knauf, testified in court that he did not co-write the letter.
Knauf was formerly the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s communications secretary. Multiple British newspapers, citing emails, have reported that Knauf was the person who complained to Buckingham Palace in 2018 that Markle was bullying members of staff.
The couple’s law firm Schillings had said from the start that proceeds from any damages would be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
The couple had revealed their intention to sue on their former website. Their statement was lengthy and accompanied by an impassioned statement from Prince Harry about media intrusion in their lives.
“As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting,” Harry’s statement read.
“We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world — on every level — we have never needed responsible media more,” he said, adding that his wife has become the victim of a “British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences — a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”