Judge delays Meghan Markle privacy hearing on 'confidential' grounds

29 October 2020, 15:51

Meghan is seeking damages from Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL)
Meghan is seeking damages from Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL). Picture: PA

The Duchess of Sussex has won a bid to postpone the trial for her privacy action against the Mail on Sunday until next autumn.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, with the trial due to commence in January - but it will now move to the autumn of 2021 because of a "confidential" reason.

The 39-year-old is seeking damages from the publisher after the Mail on Sunday printed a letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle in 2018.

In a High Court hearing on Thursday, Mr Justice Warby agreed to delay the trial after an earlier private hearing, adding that it was necessary to protect "the confidentiality of the information relied on" by Meghan in her application for postponement.

The Duchess of Sussex wanted to postpone the trial for a 'confidential' reason
The Duchess of Sussex wanted to postpone the trial for a 'confidential' reason. Picture: PA

Justice Warby told the court, which was attended remotely by lawyers and journalists, said the confidential information was the "primary" reason for Meghan wanting the delay.

Other reasons included Meghan's application for summary judgement - something that could see the case resolved without trial - and her challenge against another judge's ruling that allows ANL to rely on an unauthorised biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

"The right decision in all the circumstances is to grant the application to adjourn," Justice Warby said.

"That means that the trial date of January 11, 2021 will be vacated and the trial will be re-fixed for a new date in the autumn."

ANL did not oppose the application, but its lawyers did request consideration for Mr Markle, saying the 76-year-old is "elderly and sick," and intends to give evidence.

The newspaper publisher has also denied all allegations, which include alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

It has also denied the letter was edited to change its meaning.