Meghan Markle Accused of 'Confusing and Tortuous' Account in Lawsuit

Meghan Markle faces claims she provided a "confusing and tortuous" account in her tabloid lawsuit, with lawyers accusing her of "inconsistencies."

The Duchess of Sussex is suing the Mail on Sunday for privacy and copyright infringement over the publication of a letter she sent her father accusing him of breaking her heart "into a million pieces."

However, the newspaper claims she intended the letter to be made public as part of a media strategy to get her side of the story out.

Last week, Meghan's lawyers asked the High Court, in London, to award her victory without the need for a trial and is awaiting the judge's decision.

During a two-day hearing, Judge Mark Warby heard the Mail on Sunday's lawyers claim the duchess contradicted herself and that it could damage her case if "she had made untruthful or misleading statements."

A court filing by the newspaper complains about the "confusion which bedevils" her claims and suggests she is "not at all clear."

Meghan Markle at Univeristy of Johannesburg
Meghan Markle visits the University of Johannesburg on October 1, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her legal action against the Mail on Sunday was announced during the tour of South Africa. Tim Rooke - Pool/Getty

'The confusing and tortuous account of the genesis of the Letter'

The Mail on Sunday's lawyers claim she made a "significant amendment" to her copyright claim in October.

Meghan's original handwritten note, which begged her father to "please stop" speaking to the media, had been written in her well-honed calligraphy.

However, she then submitted an "electronic draft" version which they say was not part of her original claim and which she says she copied out by hand to create the letter.

The newspaper says she claims to be the sole author but conceded in a November court filing she had feedback from Jason Knauf, then press secretary at Kensington Palace.

The Mail on Sunday's court filing reads: "[Meghan] indicated that Mr Knauf was involved in the drafting process, referring to 'feedback on the draft' which he provided, although [Meghan] states that Mr Knauf's comments 'were in the form of 'general ideas' as opposed to actual wording.'"

Meghan's updated court filing also said Knauf was told about the letter so he could inform "more senior people in the Royal households, all of whom had to be kept apprised of any public-facing issues."

And the document revealed her original decision to write the letter was taken "with the advice" of "two members of the Royal Family."

The newspapers' lawyers wrote that "the confusing and tortuous account of the genesis of the letter and her subsequent communications about its existence and contents cannot serve as the evidential basis for" awarding her victory without a trial.

Meghan's lawyers wrote: "The Electronic Draft/the Letter is an original literary work in which copyright subsists and is owned by [Meghan]."

Who She Told About the Letter

The Mail on Sunday claim Meghan permitted a confidante described in court as "Friend A" to tell People magazine about the letter through an anonymous interview.

They say she initially described "having discussed with Friend A that she was writing a letter to her father at the time of penning it" and having "discussed the existence of the Letter (but not the contents)."

The court filing reads: "Later in the same document, she contradicted this by saying of the letter that she 'discussed some of its contents' with Friend A, and later still that she 'discussed the contents of the letter with her husband, her mother, Friends A and C, the [Kensington Palace] Communications Team and her solicitor'."

Meghan's lawyers also said she "did not know that the contents of the Letter would or might be revealed or referred to by any media outlet or to any person for the purposes of publication in any medium. [Meghan] would not have consented to this."

The Authors of Finding Freedom

The newspaper has also accused Meghan of co-operating with the authors of biography Finding Freedom, so that they would include details of the letter in the book.

However, Meghan's lawyers described the argument as "utterly fantastical" and "bound to fail." They claim she "did not provide a copy of the letter or its contents, or a description of its contents, to the authors, whether directly or indirectly, and whether for publication or otherwise; nor did she cause or permit the Letter or its contents, or a description of its contents, to be disclosed to the authors for publication."

The newspaper claims "she pleaded an apparently contradictory case" by saying she "was concerned that her father's narrative in the media that she had abandoned him and had not even tried to contact him (which was false) would be repeated."

Her court filing reads: "Accordingly, she indicated to a person whom she knew had already been approached by the authors that the true position as above (which that person and several others who knew [Meghan] already knew) could be communicated to the authors to prevent any further misrepresentation."

Meghan's lawyers described the issue as "extremely limited and legally irrelevant."

The newspaper also points to a disagreement over whether Prince Harry has met co-author Carolyn Durand.

The Mail on Sunday's court filing reads: "[Meghan] denied speaking to or communicating with the authors 'for the purposes of the Book,' and denied that she had met [co-author] Carolyn Durand, and averred that her husband 'does not recall ever speaking to Ms Durand.'"

In a witness statement, Scobie said Harry has "in fact spoken to her on various occasions over the years, including in London and Florida in 2016 related to interviews for the Invictus Games (including producing the Duke's interview with First Lady Michelle Obama), twice in 2012 for interviews produced in Brazil and during celebrations for the Queen's Jubilee, and in 2009 for an interview during his visit to New York."

'A heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father'

Lawyers for the duchess dispute the newspaper's claims and say its argument, even if proved true, would not take away her right to privacy over the letter.

Meghan's court filing reads: "Every citizen, whatever their profile or position, has the right under English law to respect for their private and family life, their home and their correspondence.

"[The Mail on Sunday's] decision to publish, without [Meghan's] consent or even prior knowledge, very substantial extracts from her letter to her father to its millions of readers worldwide was a plain and serious invasion of her rights of privacy in that letter."

It adds: "It is a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father (the word 'pain' or 'painful' appears no fewer than five times), begging him to stop talking to the press.

"It is as good an example as one could find of a letter that any person of ordinary sensibilities would not want to be disclosed to third parties, let alone in a mass media publication, in a sensational context and to serve the commercial purposes of the newspaper."