Meghan Markle Wins Emphatic Victory in Tabloid Privacy Case

Meghan Markle has won a resounding victory in her tabloid privacy case over a letter she sent her father.

The Duchess of Sussex sued the Mail on Sunday for printing what her lawyers described as "a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father."

In the handwritten note, she begged him to stop giving interviews to the media and accused him of breaking her heart "into a million pieces."

Thomas Markle handed the document to the newspaper alongside an interview in which he said he was expecting an olive branch but instead found it to be an attack on him.

Meghan sued the newspaper for breach of copyright and privacy and applied for a quick and easy win with no trial, saying the Mail on Sunday's case was so weak that they would lose even if all their factual claims were proved.

Meghan Markle at Canada House Youth Event
Meghan Markle attends a Commonwealth Day Youth Event at Canada House on March 11, 2019 in London, England. She sued the Mail on Sunday for breach of privacy and copyright. Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty

The judge's ruling today agrees with that interpretation in relation to privacy but outlines there may still need to be a trial in relation to the copyright part of the claim.

In a ruling at the High Court today, Judge Mark Warby wrote: "There will be summary judgment for the claimant on the claim for misuse of private information, and on the issues I have identified in the claim for copyright infringement.

"A hearing or hearings will need to be fixed for the determination of the remaining issues in the copyright claim and for the determination of what remedies should be granted."

In a court filing, Meghan's lawyers said of the letter: "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."

The newspaper claimed they had every right to publish the letter after five of Meghan's friends mentioned it in interviews attacking her father.

Its lawyers argue the friends misrepresented the contents and Markle Sr had a right to set the record straight, offering the letter itself as proof the friends were wrong.

Past court filing reveal the newspaper believes Meghan wrote the letter with the help of Kensington Palace communications team, which its lawyers claim means she is not the sole copyright holder.

The judge's ruling suggested a trial will be needed in relation to that part of the case, but described it as "of minor significance."

A court filing reads: "An important facet of the uncertainty as to the nature and scope of any copyright owned by [Meghan] relates to the dispute over the contribution of others, including [former Kensington Palace press secretary Jason] Knauf, to the creation of the Electronic Draft ("ED") and Letter.

"As we understand her case, Meghan suggests that the court should conclude there is but a single author (herself), a single creative endeavor, a single resulting copyright and that it is a literary intellectual creation that is all hers.

"Such a case cannot be made without detailed evidence and disclosure."

Judge Warby's ruling reads: "There remain for resolution by way of a trial the issues - of minor significance in the overall context—as to whether the claimant was the sole author or whether the involvement of Mr Knauf—whatever it proves to have been – made him a co-author; and if so, what consequences that has as on the extent of the infringement of which the claimant may complain, and on the remedies available."