Meghan Markle letter was attempt to defend claim she was ‘unloving daughter’, court told

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The lawyers of Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), which Meghan is suing after the Mail on Sunday published extracts of a letter she penned for her father, have made this claim in court documents submitted ahead of today’s hearing. In these documents to the High Court, ANL’s representatives said the Re-Amended Reply (RAR) previously submitted by Meghan’s lawyers “lend much greater support to D[efendant]’s case, since they admit a series of facts which strongly suggest that the Letter was created with a view to it being disclosed publicly at some future point to defend C[laimant] against charges of being an uncaring or unloving daughter.”

The publisher’s lawyers also mentioned the involvement of the communication team at Kensington Palace, which in 2018 was supporting both the Cambridges and the Sussexes, in the creation of the letter.

The document read: “No truly private letter from daughter to father would require any input from the KPC [Kensington Palace Communications] team.”

In November, Meghan said in court documents she sought advice from two senior members of the Royal Family over how to prevent her estranged father from talking to the press.

She also said Kensington Palace’s then-communications secretary, Jason Knauf, had provided feedback on a draft of her letter she had shared with him and Prince Harry. 

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However, she said Mr Knauf had not provided any actual working.

In written submissions to the court ahead of today’s hearing, ANL’s representatives also said Meghan admitted she had “a fear” her letter to her father might be intercepted.

This, they said, shows “she must, at the very least, have appreciated that her father might choose to disclose it”.

The documents submitted said: “Even this case amounts to an important concession on C’s part, namely that she had in mind the possibility of the Letter being disclosed.  

“This indicates the need for a careful inquiry into C’s state of mind at trial upon cross-examination; the boundary between a fear of publication, and an expectation of publication, if it exists, is a narrow one.

“Either state of mind may serve to diminish a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

But Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the Duchess of Sussex, said during today’s hearing Meghan “never consented” to the publication of the letter and wasn’t even told in advance that some of its extracts were going to be published.

He also said: “The claimant herself had done nothing to bring the contents of the letter into the public domain at the time of publication.” 

He added that Meghan “only discussed its contents with a very limited number of people who were either friends or family” or people with whom she had a “trusted relationship, such as the communications team or her solicitor”.

The barrister said the effect of publishing the letter was “self-evidently likely to be devastating for the claimant”.

Mr Rushbrooke defended the contents and character of the letter she sent to Mr Markle as “intrinsically private, personal and sensitive in nature”, adding Meghan therefore “had a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the contents of the letter”.

He also said the letter was sent to Mr Markle “by FedEx, a recorded delivery by FedEx.”  

He added the letter was sent via “the claimant’s accountant I think it was, who was known to her father”, adding: “The purpose of this – and, we say, what else could it have been for – was to minimise the risk of interception.”

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the MailOnline, Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, after it published in February 2019 extracts of a letter she wrote to her father in August 2018.

Meghan’s legal team is seeking a summary judgement in favour of the Duchess of Sussex during a remote High Court hearing taking place today and tomorrow.

Meghan’s representatives have told Mr Justice Warby in court documents and during the hearing Associated Newspapers have “no prospect” of defending her privacy and copyright claims.

Mr Rushbrooke said: “At its heart, it is a very straightforward case about the unlawful publication of a private letter.   

“We say that, quite simply, the publication to millions of readers of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline of extensive extracts from a private and, indeed, deeply personal letter written by the claimant to her father that took place on February 10, 2019, was a plain and serious breach of her right to privacy.”

Mr Rushbrooke added that ANL “has no viable defence” to Meghan’s claim for misuse of private information.

Arguing against the summary judgement Meghan’s lawyers are applying for, the representatives for ANL argued in documents submitted to the court there was “uncertainty as to a number of significant factual matters which can, and should, be investigated at trial when the court will have the full picture in terms of disclosure and evidence”.

The documents added: “This is particularly so when the claimant’s case in respect of certain important factual issues has shifted, inter alia in relation to the circumstances in which the letter was written and the extent to which she had disclosed information about the letter with a view to publication.

“There are now on the record a number of inconsistent statements made by her that she will need to explain.”

Meghan is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations, particularly the Duchess’s claim the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will contest the case. 

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