Meghan seeks court ruling over 'serious breach' of privacy

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Pedestrian pass by The Royal Courts Of Justice, in London, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex will ask a High Court judge to rule in her favour in her privacy action against the Mail on Sunday over the publication of a handwritten letter to her estranged father. The case will be heard remotely due to the pandemic. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON – 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.”

Meghan's latest attempt to protect her privacy laid bare more details of her fraught relationship with her estranged father, who claims he has been “vilified” as a dishonest publicity-seeker.

The former Meghan Markle, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that published portions of a handwritten letter to her father, Thomas Markle, after her marriage to Britain’s Prince Harry in 2018.

Associated Newspapers is contesting the claim, and a full trial is due to be held in the autumn at the High Court, in what would be one of London's highest-profile civil court showdowns for years.

The duchess is seeking a summary judgment that would find in her favor and dismiss the newspaper’s defense case. Her lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke, argued that the publisher had “no real prospect” of winning the case.

“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. In the end, he didn't attend the wedding ceremony after suffering a heart attack.

Rushbrooke said Meghan's letter, sent in August 2018, was “a message of peace” whose aim was “to stop him talking to the press."