By ZOE MAGEE and KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(LONDON) — Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, scored a win Thursday in her legal battle with Associated Newspapers Ltd., the publishers of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.
High Court Justice Mark Warby ruled in Meghan’s favor that the Mail on Sunday did invade her privacy by publishing large parts of a personal letter she sent to her now-estranged father Thomas Markle before her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.
“The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the Letter would remain private,” Justice Warby ruled. “The Mail Articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.”
However, a question still remains over whether she is the sole owner of the infringed copyright and the judge has decided the case should go to trial to determine damages.
“The Court is persuaded, however, that there should be a trial limited to issues relating to the ownership of copyright,” Warby said, setting a hearing for March 2 to discuss the next steps in the trial.
Duchess Meghan, who now lives in California with Harry and their son Archie, issued a statement after the court’s ruling, saying she hopes her case “creates legal precedent.”
“After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanizing practices. These tactics (and those of their sister publications MailOnline and the Daily Mail) are not new; in fact, they’ve been going on for far too long without consequence. For these outlets, it’s a game. 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,” Meghan said in her statement. “The world needs reliable, fact-checked, high-quality news. What The Mail on Sunday and its partner publications do is the opposite.”
“We all lose when misinformation sells more than truth, when moral exploitation sells more than decency, and when companies create their business model to profit from people’s pain,” she said. “But for today, with this comprehensive win on both privacy and copyright, we have all won. We now know, and hope it creates legal precedent, that you cannot take somebody’s privacy and exploit it in a privacy case, as the defendant has blatantly done over the past two years.”
“I share this victory with each of you—because we all deserve justice and truth, and we all deserve better,” Meghan concluded her statement. “I particularly want to thank my husband, mom, and legal team, and especially Jenny Afia for her unrelenting support throughout this process.”
Representatives for the Mail on Sunday said in a statement they are considering whether to appeal Thursday’s decision.
“We are very surprised by today’s summary judgment and disappointed at being denied the chance to have all the evidence heard and tested in open court at a full trial,” the statement read. “We are carefully considering the judgment’s contents and will decide in due course whether to lodge an appeal.”
Meghan’s 2018 handwritten letter to her father, which addressed the breakdown in their relationship, was reproduced by Associated Newspapers in five articles in February 2019.
Meghan sued Associated Newspapers for alleged copyright infringement, misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act.
Thomas Markle had been expected to be called as a witness had the privacy claim gone forward to trial.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.