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Explained: Why Meghan Markle filed a lawsuit against a British tabloid

In a statement published after the court’s verdict was announced yesterday, Markle said, “This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right."

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 3, 2021 6:50:42 pm
meghan markle, prince harry, duchess meghan, duchess of sussex, uk, united kingdom, daily mail, indian express, indian express news, todays news,world today, world news, Indian express explained, Meghan markle tabloid lawsuitFile photo of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (AP)

The publisher of the British tabloid The Mail on Sunday and its parent company The Associated Newspapers have lost an appeal to overturn the High Court’s February ruling, which said that publishing a letter that the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle wrote to her father in 2018 was unlawful. The paper had questioned the extent to which the letter was private and argued that it was crafted with the “possibility of public consumption” in mind, the BBC reported.

In a statement published after the court’s verdict was announced yesterday, Markle 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.”

What is the ruling about?

Markle sued the British tabloid and its parent company in 2019 because it published a private letter that Markle had written to her estranged father, Thomas Markle. Markle sued the paper for copyright infringement and invasion of her privacy.

Why did Markle file a privacy lawsuit?

The lawsuit concerns a five-page letter that Markle sent to her father in 2018, about three months after she married Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. Subsequently, Markle sent a reply to the letter in September 2018.

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In February 2019, the existence of the letter first became public, when it was mentioned in an eight-page article that appeared in the US magazine People with the headline, “The Truth About Meghan – Her best friends break their silence”. The High Court’s judgment from February states that it was Markle’s father who provided the letter or a copy of it to the defendant (Associated Newspapers Limited).

On February 9, 2019, the defendant published in hard copy and online five articles, which quote extensively from the letter, “under headlines the gist of which is conveyed by the one across pages 4 and 5 of the Mail on Sunday: “Revealed: the letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’” the judgment mentions.

In 2019, Markle filed a claim against Associated Newspapers over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act of 2018.

In the lawsuit, Markle said the contents of the letter were private, that the correspondence was about her private and family life, not her public profile or her work, that the letter disclosed her intimate thoughts and feelings and they were related to personal matters, not matters of legitimate public interest, that she enjoyed a reasonable expectation that the contents would remain private and not be published to the world at large by a national newspaper.

In a statement released in October 2019, Prince Harry had said his “wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”

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