Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has won her invasion of privacy battle against U.K. tabloid editors.
The British royal, who is married to Prince Harry, took officials at Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and sister website MailOnline, to court after the 2019 publication of excerpts of a private letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.
The case was expected to go to trial in London, but last month (January 2021), Meghan’s attorneys requested a summary judgment, insisting there is “no real prospect” of Associated Newspapers chiefs emerging victorious in the suit.
High Court Judge Mark Warby agreed, and on Thursday (February 11, 2021), he ruled in the Duchess’ favor, declaring the former actress “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private,” adding that the five articles published had “interfered with that reasonable expectation”.
He continued, “Taken as a whole, the disclosures were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful. There is no prospect that a different judgment would be reached after a trial.”
Although Meghan succeeded in winning her case on the grounds of privacy, she will still have to face a limited trial to determine who owns the copyright of the note, as defense lawyers claim she penned the five-page letter with the help of members of the communications team at the royal couple’s former Kensington Palace office.
Judge Warby admitted the argument “cannot be described as convincing and seems improbable,” but decided it was a matter to be resolved at trial.
In a statement issued after the news emerged on Thursday, Meghan said: “(I am) grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanizing practices.”
“For these outlets, it’s a game,” she continued. “For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.”
Meanwhile, a representative for Associated Newspapers shared their surprise and disappointment at being “denied the chance to have all the evidence heard and tested in open court at a full trial”.
“We are carefully considering the judgment’s contents and will decide in due course whether to lodge an appeal,” the spokesperson added.
Meghan and Harry stepped down as senior members of the royal family early last year (2020) and relocated from London to her native California with their young son Archie to escape the glare of the tabloid spotlight.