Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Should Shun Lawyers in Press War, Says Regulator

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry should complain to the U.K. press watchdog instead of mounting expensive lawsuits, the organisation's chairman says.

The Duchess of Sussex is suing the Mail on Sunday for privacy, copyright and data protection after it printed a letter she sent her father about the breakdown in their relationship.

However, experts have said she faces the risk of reputational damage as she will be forced to testify against Thomas Markle and he will also give evidence against her.

Meghan and Harry are also suing unnamed Los Angeles paparazzi for drone images of their son Archie in private, and picture agency Splash News for photographing him in a public park.

Now the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO), has urged the couple to shun the "expense" of their London lawyers, Schillings, for the cheaper, lower risk avenue of using the regulator.

Lord Edward Faulks, IPSO's chairman, told The Times: "If I had a complaint against newspapers, I am not sure I would go to the expense of hiring Schillings."

He added: "They could have come to us. The royal family has regularly used us and are very much aware of what we can and cannot do.

"But we don't preclude people from using a lawyer in a conventional way."

The duke and duchess have used IPSO before but have not always been successful.

In January the regulator ruled against Harry in a dispute with the Mail on Sunday over a story about a Sussex Royal Instagram post showing an idyllic safari scene.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Variety Performance
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend The Royal Variety Performance 2018 at the London Palladium on November 19, 2018, in London, England. The couple have been advised to complain to the U.K. press watchdog instead of mounting expensive lawsuits. Max Mumby/Getty

The headline read: "Drugged and tethered... what Harry didn't tell you about those awe-inspiring wildlife photos."

The Instagram post did not mention that a rhino, an elephant and a lion in the pictures had been drugged as part of conservation projects and one was tethered at the time the images were taken.

Harry claimed the coverage misled readers, saying he had no intention to cover up those facts, but IPSO ruled the story was not "significantly misleading."

In 2019, The Sun ran a story claiming Royal Household staff at Windsor Castle had been banned from using a car park overlooked by the couple's Frogmore Cottage home.

The story suggested Harry and Meghan were behind the ban and IPSO ruled this was misleading and would require a clarification in print.

However, the newspaper had already offered to print the clarification prior to the complaint to the regulator.

The offer was rejected by Harry and Meghan, who pushed on through IPSO, seemingly hoping The Sun would be ordered to place the correction on its front page.

IPSO's ruling stated: "A front page correction, or a front page reference to a correction, will sometimes be the appropriate remedy when a piece of misleading information is published on the front page.

"In this instance, it was not misleading for the article to report that a 'ban' had been instigated by an employee of the Royal Household, and the complainants' denial of their involvement in this had been included.

"In light of this, and in all the circumstances set out above, the Committee did not consider that a front page reference or correction was proportionate to the significance of the misleading impression that had been created of the status of the claim."

In the end, IPSO ordered The Sun to print the clarification using the same wording that had already been offered to the couple prior to their complaint to the regulator.