October 18, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Duchess of Sussex: Meghan and Harry’s book can be used in a privacy case

Duchess of Sussex: Meghan and Harry's book can be used in a privacy case

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Reuters

In a High Court privacy lawsuit over the publication of a letter to Meghan’s estranged father, the Mail on Sunday may use the recent biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for its defense.

The paper said Meghan found the Freedom writers informative to create a version of her own events.

But Meghan’s lawyers said the allegations that they “collaborated” with the authors were “conspiracy theories.”

The judge said the publisher could modify his defense based on the biography.

Judge Francisco Caye denied the Duchess permission to appeal against the verdict, but her lawyers could take the case to the Court of Appeal.

The publishers of the Duchess Paper are suing Associated Newspapers for copyright infringement after articles reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to Thomas Markley in August 2018.

Meghan stated that the letter was “private and confidential” and “described her intimate thoughts and feelings about her father’s health and her relationship with him at the time.”

The publisher of the mail denied the allegations and argued that the Duchess did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy and did not hesitate to publish the letter.

‘Not interviewed’

In a recent biography Finding Freedom, Omid Scoby and Caroline Durand describe the culture of growing tension between Sussex and other members of the Royal Family.

The mail states that Meghan informed the authors of the letter to Mr Markley “to create her own events in a way that suits her”.

But Meghan’s lawyers argued that the references to the letter in the book were “extracted from the letter, which was removed from the defendant ‘s own articles.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex issued a statement at the time the book was published in July, saying they had not been interviewed and had “not cooperated” with it.

The pair are now in California, stepping back as senior royals in late March.

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Getty Images

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The biography went on sale in the summer

The High Court case is set to begin in January next year.

Meghan is suing over five articles in Associated newspapers, two appearing in Mail on Sunday and three in MailOnline, published in February 2019.

A headline in the Sunday Mail reads: “Revealed: A letter showing the true tragedy of Meghan’s split with a father ‘broke her heart into a million pieces,” she said.

The publisher said there was a “huge and legitimate” public interest in publishing the letter – but that Meghan was chosen by the paper to portray her as “negative”.

In January, the publisher filed his defense documents, stating that the Duchess was more concerned about the “vague” impact of the letter’s publication, without violating his data protection rights.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge added “more details” to her publisher’s case – but did not give it “new protection”.

Responding to the decision, attorneys for Shillings, the company representing Meghan, said the publisher’s defense was “unworthy”.

“We are prepared for this potential outcome, given the limited limit on modifying a request for privacy and copyright case,” they said.

“This latest investigation is unfortunately another step in a case already taken out by the defendant who uses the legal process to exploit the Duchess’s privacy and the privacy of those around her for profit-driven clich‌s rather than journalism.”

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