LONDON (AP) — A British judge ruled Thursday that a newspaper invaded the privacy of Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex by publishing a personal letter to her estranged father.
Judge Mark Warby said Associated Newspapers misused the duchess’s private information in five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website, which published portions of a handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, after her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.
The judge said the duchess “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.”
The ruling is a major victory for Meghan, who sued the publisher for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement.
Associated Newspapers contested the claim and a trial was scheduled for the fall. The duchess asked for a summary judgment to settle the case without a trial.
At a hearing last month, Meghan’s lawyer Justin Rushbrooke argued the publisher had “no real prospect” of winning the case.
Meghan’s lawyers say the “deeply personal” five-page letter was intended for her father alone.
But the defense argued Meghan wrote the letter as part of a media strategy to rebut a negative view conveyed by her father, with help from the communications team in the royal couple’s Kensington Palace office.
Thursday’s ruling means Meghan has won her case on privacy grounds, but the judge said a “limited trial” should be held to decide some of the copyright issues.
Meghan, an American actress and star of TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year.
In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.