By Michael Holden
LONDON – A British tabloid began an appeal on Tuesday against a high court judge’s ruling in favour of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, in her privacy and copyright action over the publication of a letter she had written to her estranged father.
Meghan, 40, sued Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, for printing parts of the letter she wrote to Thomas Markle in August 2018 three months after her marriage to Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry.
Earlier this year, Judge Mark Warby ruled in her favour without a trial, and said the paper should print a front page apology and pay her legal bills.
On Tuesday, the paper launched a three-day appeal against his decision, saying the judge should not have treated the letter as an “intimate communication” between Meghan and her father, and had reached wrong conclusions on other issues.
“The letter was crafted specifically with the possibility of public consumption in mind, because the claimant appreciated Mr Markle might disclose it to the media,” Andrew Caldecott, the Mail’s lawyer, told three of England’s most senior judges on the Court of Appeal.
Meghan wrote the five-page letter to Markle following a collapse in their relationship in the run-up to her wedding, which her father missed due to ill health and after he admitted posing for paparazzi pictures.
The paper, which published extracts in February 2019, also argued it Markle had a right to respond to comments made by Meghan’s anonymous friends in interviews with the U.S. magazine People.
“The judge’s approach to correction, right of reply and the wider public interest was we suggest much too narrow and contrary to authority,” Caldecott said, adding Markle wanted the letter published to put the record straight.
The duchess’s lawyers said the appeal should be thrown out as another trial would allow further invasion of her privacy, while the Mail would profit from the “media circus that would inevitably result”.
Meghan and Harry’s relations with Britain’s tabloid press collapsed after they got married. The couple have said they would have “zero engagement” with four major British papers, including the Daily Mail, accusing them of false and invasive coverage
The couple also cited media intrusion as a major factor in their decision to step down from royal duties and move to the United States with baby son Archie last year.
“The world needs reliable, fact-checked, high-quality news. What The Mail on Sunday and its partner publications do is the opposite,” Meghan said after her earlier court victory.