Meghan Markle lost the first round of a legal battle with the Associated Newspapers over the publication of a letter she wrote to her father. The Associated Newspaper, who publish the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and MailOnline, won its attempt to have parts of Meghan’s breach of privacy claim struck out. The Duchess of Sussex, who is now living in California with Prince Harry and their son Archie, is suing for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement after articles reproduced parts of a letter she sent her father, Thomas Markle.
The publisher Associated Newspapers denies the allegations, arguing that the Duchess of Sussex had no reasonable expectation of privacy and anticipated publication of the letter.
Today judge Mr Justice Warby struck out parts of Meghan’s claim, including allegations the publisher acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.
He also dismissed her allegations that the publisher deliberately “stirred up” issues between Meghan and her father, and that it had an “agenda” of publishing intrusive or offensive stories about her.
Mr Justice Warby said the allegations he struck out do not go to the “heart of the case, which at its core concerns the publication of five articles disclosing the words of, and information drawn from, the letter written by the claimant to her father in August 2018”.
JUST IN: Meghan Markle loses first stage of court case against publisher
He said some of the allegations were struck out as “irrelevant”, while others were because they were “inadequately detailed”.
International media lawyer Paul Tweed told Sky News that these allegations “don’t have to be thrown out for good – it could be revived”.
He said: “There may be another way of pleading those issues that the judge struck out today.”
Mr Justice Warby himself said those parts of the Duchess’s case may be brought back at a later stage if they are put on a proper legal basis.
Lawyers for Schillings, the firm representing Meghan, said the ruling did not change “the core elements of this case”.
They said: “The duchess’ rights were violated; the legal boundaries around privacy were crossed.”
On the impact of today’s verdict, Mr Tweed told Sky News: “This will narrow the battleground although the case still has a long way to go.”
“This will be a significant factor in terms of the witnesses that may be required or called from both parties.
“From Associated Newspaper’s perspective, it is sending out a strong message from the outset.
“If they got it wrong, that is a separate legal issue but they were not motivated by bad faith or dishonesty according to this ruling.
“The core fundamental issues still have to be tried but it does strengthen their hand.”