Meghan wins ruling in Mail on Sunday privacy fighton December 2, 2021 at 10:33 am

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The Duchess of Sussex took action after the paper carried extracts of a letter to her father.

Duchess of Sussex

Image source, Reuters

The Duchess of Sussex has won the latest stage in her legal fight against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday.

The Court of Appeal rejected Associated Newspapers’ attempt to have a trial over its publication of extracts from Meghan’s letter to her father.

A High Court judge earlier this year ruled in favour of the duchess in the privacy and copyright case.

He said the issues were so clear cut there was no need for a full hearing.

That decision has now been upheld.

In a statement issued after the ruling, the duchess said: “This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right.”

Meghan’s lawyers had said her letter to Thomas Markle in August 2018 was “deeply personal” and “self-evidently was intended to be kept private”.

Announcing the decision, the three judges hearing the appeal said the letter’s contents were “personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest”.

They added: “It was hard to see what evidence could have been adduced at trial that would have altered the situation…

“The judge had correctly decided that, whilst it might have been proportionate to publish a very small part of the letter for that purpose, it was not necessary to publish half the contents of the letter.”

The judges were told during the hearing that 585 out of the letter’s 1,250 words had been republished in the five articles in question.

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Analysis box by Sean Coughlan, royal correspondent

Meghan has won a significant victory in this courtroom battle to protect her privacy.

She’s drawn a line in the sand. Even if her life is of public interest, she’s shown that it doesn’t make her public property.

It was a high-risk strategy, which could have put her in court facing awkward questions, but the appeal court ruling has seen her winning without that.

But it’s already come with some bruising headlines – such as having to apologise for having forgotten how information was given to authors writing a book about her and Prince Harry.

This might have been an “unfortunate lapse of memory”, said the appeal court ruling, but it didn’t bear on the fundamental issues of whether such a private letter to her father should have been published.

Meghan divides public opinion – with vocal supporters and critics both seeing bias and prejudice on the other side – and this court case is unlikely to change that.

But she has succeeded in a legal battle that previous generations of royals would probably have avoided.

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