Three months ago, 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, 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 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 described the letter as containing “inherently private and personal matters” and argued that a trial would have resulted in the same conclusion.
On Wednesday, the judge once again granted summary judgment in Markle’s favor with regard to the copyright claim.
The newspaper’s lawyers had argued that Markle had co-authored the letter with a member of the royal family staff, and it was therefore 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 Duchess of Sussex had originally filed a claim against The Mail’s publisher, Associated Newspapers, over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the U.K.’s Data Protection Act, relating to the alleged unlawful publication of a private letter.
The court still has to rule on the alleged data breaches, and any potential damages. The couple’s law firm Schillings had said two years ago that proceeds from any damages would be donated to an antibullying charity. The Mail on Sunday is appealing the February ruling.
The couple had revealed their intention to sue on their former website when they were still living in the U.K. 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.”
He said there is “a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe.”