Meghan Markle Wins Tabloid Privacy Case Even After Private Messages Exposed

Meghan Markle won her tabloid privacy lawsuit following an appeal process which raked up old wounds from her royal life.

The Duchess of Sussex sued The Mail on Sunday in October 2019 after the newspaper published a private letter she sent her father asking him to stop speaking to the media.

Five of her friends gave an inaccurate account of its contents in anonymous interviews with People in which they attacked Thomas Markle's reputation.

The newspaper then published the note alongside an interview in which he described it as a "dagger to the heart."

Meghan said the move violated her right to privacy over her feelings towards a man she had become estranged from while The Mail on Sunday argued her father had a right to defend himself from criticism, offering the letter as evidence.

However, during a three day hearing in November it was questioned whether the publisher could justify printing such extensive extracts.

The judgement read: "The Court of Appeal upheld the judge's decision that the Duchess had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter and those contents were personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest.

"The articles in The Mail on Sunday interfered with the Duchess' reasonable expectation of privacy and were not a justified or proportionate means of correcting inaccuracies about the letter that had been contained in an article published on February 6 in People magazine in the United States."

The ruling finally brings to a close a two year saga in which Meghan's private messages were published, she was forced to fight for the privacy of her friends even as she experienced a miscarriage and was left fearing losing a second pregnancy.

The duchess won a resounding victory in February only for the publisher to appeal the decision in April.

Meghan was forced to apologize in November after her private messages were handed to the court by the same aide who in October 2018 famously accused her of bullying.

The texts and emails showed she had mislead the court in filings that said she did not cooperate with the authors of biography Finding Freedom.

They also showed she was aware the letter to Thomas Markle might be leaked to the media and wrote it so that if it was published the world would know the truth.

Meghan Markle on Day of Lawsuit
Meghan Markle, seen in Tembisa Township, in South Africa, on October 2, 2019, at the time she first launched her lawsuit against 'The Mail on Sunday'. The Court of Appeal handed down its judgement in the privacy and copyright case on December 2, 2021. Samir Hussein/WireImage

One text to Knauf written before the letter was sent in August 2018 read: "Obviously everything I've drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice but please do let me know if anything stands out to you as a liability."

She added: "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."

Meghan addressed it to "Daddy," noting in a text to Knauf this would pull on the heart strings should it ever become public.

In a 20-page witness statement, Meghan wrote: "I did not have the benefit of seeing these emails and I apologize to the Court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.

"I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead [The Mail on Sunday] or the Court.

"In fact, had I been aware of these exchanges at the time of serving the Re-Amended Reply, I would have been more than happy to refer to them as I feel they strongly support my case."

Other messages showed Meghan describing how she wrote the letter because Harry's family had been berating him about stopping her father's attacks on the monarchy after a week spent staying with Prince Charles.

During the visit, an unnamed senior royal rang to speak to Meghan about Markle Snr's disclosures in the media, she told the court.

Had the appeal been granted, Meghan would have been forced into a messy trial in which she would have to hand over more private messages and testify under hostile questioning.