Meghan Markle Wins Just $1.36 in Damages From Tabloid for Privacy Breach

Meghan Markle has been awarded $1.36 in damages for invasion of privacy over a lawsuit against U.K. tabloid The Mail on Sunday, the paper said Wednesday.

The Duchess of Sussex sued after the newspaper printed a letter she sent her father begging him to stop talking to the media in August 2018.

Private messages were then exposed during the three-year saga and she feared the stress from the case would cause her a miscarriage.

Now she has been awarded "nominal damages" of £1 ($1.36), in recognition that her rights were infringed but without attaching significant compensation.

Meghan will, however, receive an additional, undisclosed sum in relation to the infringement of copyright relating to the text of the letter.

A spokesperson for the duchess told Newsweek the court ordered a substantial sum be paid in relation to the copyright portion of the claim, which will be donated to charity.

They added that for Meghan, the case has been about right and wrong from the start rather than about money. They said she chose to get her financial remedy via copyright rather than via privacy as the former is based on The Mail on Sunday's profits.

The Mail on Sunday will also have to pay costs which its sister title MailOnline reported could run into seven figures.

The court's order read: "[The Mail on Sunday] shall by 7 January 2022 pay [Meghan] the confidential sum agreed between the parties as set out in Confidential Annex A here to following judgment in respect of the claim for copyright infringement.

"[The Mail on Sunday] shall by 7 January 2022 pay [Meghan] the sum of £1
by way of nominal damages for misuse of private information."

Meghan won on grounds of privacy in February and copyright in March but the newspaper appealed both rulings with a hearing that lasted three days in November.

Jason Knauf, Meghan's former press secretary, handed her private texts and emails to the Court of Appeal which showed the duchess wrote the letter to her father knowing it might become public.

A message she sent him in August 2018 read: "Honestly Jason, I feel fantastic, cathartic and real and honest and factual.

"If he leaks it then that's on his conscience but at least the world will know the truth, words I could never voice publicly."

Knauf, the same aide who accused Meghan of bullying in an October 2018 email, also revealed Meghan and Prince Harry gave him permission to brief the authors of biography Finding Freedom.

The duchess had to apologize for misleading the court after her own legal team had previously told the High Court she did not cooperate with the authors.

Still, Meghan came out of the bruising case victorious and issued a statement declaring her win "precedent setting."

She said: "This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what's right.

"While this win is precedent setting, what matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create.

"From day one, I have treated this lawsuit as an important measure of right versus wrong. The defendant has treated it as a game with no rules."

She added: "The courts have held the defendant to account, and my hope is that we all begin to do the same. Because as far removed as it may seem from your personal life, it's not.

"Tomorrow it could be you. These harmful practices don't happen once in a blue moon—they are a daily fail that divide us, and we all deserve better."

A spokesperson for Meghan told Newsweek that The Mail on Sunday settled for a higher amount on the copyright portion of the claim, rather than face a trial over how much profit they made from the story.

The Mail on Sunday was on course for a mini-trial to determine the amount Meghan would be paid, which would have made its profits from the story public.

But the newspaper settled on that specific issue, keeping its commercial information private.

Any precedent set by the case is under threat after the British government expressed its intention to replace the Human Rights Act, under which the privacy aspect of Meghan's case was filed.

Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, said in December: "It [the planned new bill of rights] will do three things. First of all we will strengthen quintessentially British rights like freedom of speech, the liberty that guards all others. We have seen that whittled away recently for various reasons."

During the case, Meghan's right to privacy was balanced against the newspaper and father Thomas Markle's right to freedom of expression under the existing Human Rights Act.

It all means the legacy of Meghan's victory in court may be under greater pressure than it appeared at the moment the case went in her favor, and following a court process that took so much from her.

A witness statement from the duchess filed in November 2021 revealed she experienced a miscarriage in July 2020 during a particularly stressful period of the litigation, though there is no suggestion the case caused the tragedy.

Later in 2020 she got pregnant again but feared she might lose the baby, her daughter Lilibet, over the pressure, she said.

While it is not clear how much she will be awarded for the copyright portion of the case, the first $87,000 will offset costs she was ordered to pay after The Mail on Sunday won an application to have a portion of her claim thrown out in July 2020.

Meghan's total legal costs were said to total £1.5 million ($2 million) at a High Court hearing in March, before the Court of Appeal hearing took place.

A final tally for what the newspaper will have to pay has not been disclosed.

Meghan Markle at Queen's Birthday Parade
Meghan Markle, seen at the Queen's birthday parade on June 8, 2019, won £1 in nominal damages from U.K. tabloid The Mail on Sunday for breach of privacy. She will get an additional pay over copyright infringement. Karwai Tang/WireImage