Lawyers for UK's Meghan seek to stop privacy case going to trial

19 Janvier, 2021, 21:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Lawyers for UK’s Meghan seek to stop privacy case going to trial

Lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex asked a British judge on Tuesday to settle her lawsuit against a newspaper before it goes to trial by ruling that its publication of a "deeply personal" letter to her estranged father was "a plain and a serious breach of her rights of privacy".

The publisher's bid to name five of Meghan's friends who gave an anonymous interview to People magazine - which ANL says brought the letter to her father into the public domain - was dismissed last August.

The full trial of the duchess's claim was due to be heard at the High Court this month, but past year the case was adjourned until autumn 2021 for a "confidential" reason.

The duchess is applying for "summary judgement", a legal step which would see those parts of the case resolved without a High Court trial.

At the start of a two-day hearing at London's High Court, Meghan's lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke, said judge Mark Warby should give a summary judgment in favour of the former USA actress as the paper's arguments had "no reasonable grounds" of success and did not stand up to scrutiny.

"At its heart, it's a very straightforward case about the unlawful publication of a private letter", he said at the start of a two-day hearing, held remotely because of coronavirus restrictions.

Lawyers for the duchess say Thomas Markle, a retired television cinematographer, caused anguish for Meghan and Harry before their May 2018 wedding by giving media interviews and posing for wedding-preparation shots taken by a paparazzi agency.

Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, described the hand-written letter as "a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father", which was sent to Mr Markle at his home in Mexico via "the claimant's minimise the risk of interception".

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The last sentences, read out in court, were: "I ask for nothing other than peace. And I wish the same for you".

Mr Rushbrooke argued that "there is no real prospect of the defendant establishing that the claimant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the contents of the letter and the defendant's contentions to the contrary are utterly fanciful".

He said "the sad intricacies of a family not a matter of public interest".

Lawyers for Associated Newspapers argue that Meghan wrote the letter knowing it would eventually be published.

The paper published extracts in February the following year, and has justified its action by saying it allowed Markle to respond to interviews Meghan's anonymous friends had given to the United States magazine People.

But the Mail on Sunday was given permission by a judge in September to rely in its defence on an unauthorised biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand.

He also claimed he had to "defend himself" against the People article, which he said had "vilified me by making out that I was dishonest, exploitative, publicity-seeking, uncaring and cold-hearted".



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