Tabloid Appeals Meghan Markle's Victory in Private Letter Lawsuit

Meghan Markle may be dragged back into her tabloid privacy case after a newspaper filed a formal request to appeal her victory, Newsweek can reveal.

The Duchess of Sussex sued the Mail on Sunday for publishing extensive extracts of a letter she sent her father, Thomas Markle, accusing him of breaking her heart by speaking to the media.

The high profile lawsuit saw Meghan accuse the newspaper of exploiting her friends for clickbait, the newspaper accuse Meghan of collaborating with a biography that accused Prince William of snobbery and the judge accuse both sides of "tit for tat" media briefings.

However, after months of drama Meghan won a "summary judgement" application in February, handing her victory without the need for a trial.

The Mail on Sunday has long said it would challenge the decision by judge Mark Warby and the Court of Appeal has now confirmed to Newsweek it is "in receipt of an application for permission to appeal."

Meghan Markle at Commonwealth Day Service 2020
Meghan Markle attends the Commonwealth Day Service 2020 at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020 in London, England. The Mail on Sunday have appealed a ruling they breached her privacy. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The request could still be rejected, meaning Meghan's February win would still stand.

That would leave only one aspect of the case still to resolve, a trial over the extent of damages in her copyright claim.

However, if the publisher, Associated Newspapers Ltd, is successful, it could lead to the Court of Appeal ordering a full trial on both the copyright and privacy claims.

This would mean Meghan giving evidence in court under hostile questioning by the Mail on Sunday's lawyers amid allegations she sent the letter as part of a PR campaign.

The newspaper claims Meghan always intended details of the letter to leak to the media, suggesting she had help writing it from Kensington Palace press office.

Four of Meghan's former staffers were named in court papers and at least one had indicated through lawyers they had relevant information to give the court.

However, Warby's February ruling came before any testimony was provided, meaning if a new trial was ordered, new claims about the duchess could emerge.

One of the four, Jason Knauf, is the communications secretary who accusedMeghan of bullying two PAs out of the royal household in October 2018.

His email, alleging that she seems "intent on always having someone in her sights," also expressed concern about the pressure on Samantha Cohen, Meghan and Harry's former private secretary.

Cohen is also named as one of the "palace four" who the Mail on Sunday wanted to give evidence.

Knauf's email was leaked to U.K. newspaper The Times and published days before Meghan and Harry's bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview.

In the CBS prime time special,Meghan claimed "the firm" was playing an "active role" in "perpetuating falsehoods about us."

She said she was left suicidal by negative press coverage but when she asked the palace to go away to get professional help she was told it would make the royals look bad.

Warby refused an initial application for permission to appeal his ruling but said the newspaper could apply directly to the Court of Appeal, which is what has now happened.

A court filing from the first request shows the newspaper intends to argue the judge was wrong in the way he balanced Meghan's right to privacy against its right to freedom of expression.

Jason Knauf was Meghan, Harry's Communications Secretary
Jason Knauf, then communications secretary to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, on a visit to Leicester City Football Club's King Power Stadium to pay tribute to those people killed in a helicopter crash of October 27 on November 28, 2018 in Leicester, England. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The Mail on Sunday's lawyers claim Meghan intended to use the letter for PR purposes, diminishing her own privacy right to the extent that it no longer outweighed the right to free speech.

The filing reads: "The Judge wrongly treated [Meghan's] intention to disclose the Letter as part of a media strategy as an all-or-nothing point which either meant she had no reasonable expectation of privacy at all, or was legally irrelevant.

"The Judge failed to consider whether such an intention if established at trial was capable of diminishing her privacy right, and if so to what extent."

In his judgement, Warby wrote: "It was, in short, a personal and private letter.

"The majority of what was published was about the claimant's own behaviour, her feelings of anguish about her father's behaviour—as she saw it—and the resulting rift between them.

"These are inherently private and personal matters.

"The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The articles interfered with that reasonable expectation."

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