Meghan Markle's Lawyers Said Publishing Her Letter to Her Father Was "Devastating"

Meghan's lawyers said the Mail on Sunday's publication of a private letter to her father, Thomas Markle, was "self-evidently likely to be devastating."

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(Image credit: Pacific Press)

Lawyers representing the Duchess of Sussex said she suffered a "triple-barrelled invasion of privacy" when the Mail on Sunday published extracts from a letter to her father, Thomas Markle, as her legal battle continued in court Tuesday. Meghan is suing publishers Associated Newspapers for misuse of private information, breach of the Data Protection Act, and copyright infringement, as the BBC reports, over the publication of parts of a letter she sent to her father in August 2018. The Mail on Sunday published five articles on Meghan's letter to her father, in which she begged him to stop talking to the media.

On the first day of a two-day remote High Court hearing, Meghan's lawyers asked judge Mr Justice Warby for "summary judgement," which would see Associated Newspapers' defense dismissed and prevent the case from going to trial. Justin Rushbrooke, representing Meghan, said her letter was a "heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father," adding that the "contents and character of the letter were intrinsically private, personal, and sensitive in nature."

Rushbrooke said the Duchess of Sussex "had a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the contents of the letter," noting that the letter's publication was "self-evidently likely to be devastating for the claimant."

Lawyer Antony White, representing Associated Newspapers, argued that Meghan wrote the letter "with a view to it being disclosed publicly at some future point" with the intent of refuting "charges of being an uncaring or unloving daughter." White said Meghan "must, at the very least, have appreciated that her father might choose to disclose it," noting that she consulted with the Kensington Palace communications team before sending it. "No truly private letter from daughter to father would require any input from the Kensington Palace communications team," White added.

Meghan's lawyers, however, said that even the Mail on Sunday articles about the letter stressed that it was private, adding that any public interest in publishing the letter was at the "very end of the bottom end of the scale." Rushbrooke told the court, "On any view the defendant published far more by way of extracts from the letter than could have been justified in the public interest."

In a witness statement submitted to the hearing, Thomas Markle claimed that he had "never intended to talk publicly about Meg's letter" until reading an article in People, in which a friend of Meghan's said she sent the letter with the intention of repairing her relationship with her father. Markle said instead that the letter "signaled the end" of his relationship with Meghan, and argued that he had to "defend himself" against the People article which, he claimed, depicted him as "dishonest, exploitative, publicity-seeking, uncaring, and cold-hearted."

Markle claimed he wanted to "set the record straight" by allowing the letter to be published—but Meghan's lawyers dismissed this claim as "ridiculous."

The summary judgement hearing will continue on Wednesday. The full trial of Meghan's privacy claim was also initially scheduled to take place this month, as the Independent reports, but last October, she was granted an adjournment until fall 2021 on "confidential" grounds. 


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(Image credit: Samir Hussein)
Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.