The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has revealed that she suffered “damage and real sadness” after she won a High Court privacy battle over a letter she sent her dad.
Meghan sued the Mail on Sunday publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd after they published the “heartfelt” handwritten letter to Thomas Markle.
A top judge at the High Court in London has now granted her a “summary judgment”, which would see the case resolved without a trial.
In a statement released after the ruling, Meghan thanked her husband Prince Harry and mum Doria Ragland for their support.
She said: “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.
“But, for today, with this comprehensive win on both privacy and copyright, we have all won.
“I share this victory with each of you – because we all deserve justice and truth, and we all deserve better.
“I particularly want to thank my husband, mom and legal team, and especially (her solicitor) Jenny Afia for her unrelenting support throughout this process.”
Meghan also launched a stinging attack on the media, saying: “We all lose when misinformation sells more than the truth.”
The judgement found the publication of the letter also infringed Meghan’s copyright but added the issue of whether she was the ‘sole author’ of the letter should be determined at trial.
The Duchess was suing the Mail on Sunday for privacy, copyright and data protection over five articles published in February 2019.
Mr Justice Warby said in his ruling today: “The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the Letter would remain private.
“The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.”
He said “the only tenable justification for any such interference was to correct some inaccuracies about the letter” contained in an article in People magazine which featured an interview with five friends of Meghan.
But Mr Justice Warby added: “The inescapable conclusion is that, save to the very limited extent I have identified, the disclosures made were not a necessary or proportionate means of serving that purpose.
“For the most part they did not serve that purpose at all. Taken as a whole the disclosures were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.”
Mr Justice Warby also found the publication of the letter infringed the duchess’ copyright.
And he said the Mail on Sunday’s articles “copied a large and important proportion of the work’s original literary content”.
But Mr Justice Warby said issues of whether Meghan was “the sole author” – or whether Jason Knauf, formerly communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was a “co-author” – should be determined at a trial.
He forms part of the Palace Four – Royal aides who worked with Meghan – that could be called up to give evidence.
There will be a further hearing in March to decide “the next steps” in the legal action.
But an ANL spokesman said they were going to appeal the ruling, adding: “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.”
At a hearing last month, the court was told Meghan sent the letter to her estranged dad, 76, in August 2018.
She was said to have felt forced to write the “painful” letter after they reached “breaking point”.
And her lawyer Justin Rushbrooke QC described the 1,250-word letter as “a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father”.
But in a sensational witness statement, Thomas Markle claimed the letter was a “criticism” of him.
He also referred to an article five anonymous friends gave to People magazine in which the letter was mentioned.
The article included a quote from a pal, saying: “After the wedding she wrote him a letter.
“She’s like, ‘Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimizing me through the media so we can repair our relationship.'”
But Thomas Markle branded this a “total lie” and claims the article was “expressly authorised by Meg or she had at the very least known about and approved of its publication”.
Writing in his witness statement, he said: “[The People quote] suggested to people that Meg had reached out to me with the letter, saying in the letter that she loved me and that she wanted to repair our relationship.
“That suggestion was false. The letter was not an attempt at a reconciliation. It was a criticism of me.
“The letter didn’t say she loved me. It did not even ask how I was. It showed no concern about the fact I had suffered a heart attack and asked no questions about my health.
“It actually signalled the end of our relationship, not a reconciliation.”
Mr Markle also said the article in People magazine wrongly accused him of telling “mistruths” and “contained other inaccuracies about me”.
He said: “It was wrong for People magazine to say I had lied about Meg shutting me out – she had shut me out, as the letter from her showed.”