Markle v Markle: Meghan's sister accuses her of defamation 'so she could cover up fabricated rags-to-riches story'

16 February 2023, 11:25 | Updated: 16 February 2023, 11:35

Meghan is being sued for alleged defamation by her half-sister Samantha
Meghan is being sued for alleged defamation by her half-sister Samantha. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Meghan Markle's half sister has accused her of defaming her in order to cover up a "false rags to riches" story.

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Samantha Markle, 58, has launched a $75,000 lawsuit over the Duchess of Sussex's claims in her and Harry's Oprah Winfrey interview and the 2020 biography Finding Freedom.

In a virtual court hearing on Wednesday, her lawyer Peter Ticktin said Meghan "got caught" and ended up "putting her sister down" when Samantha threated to expose her.

Finding Freedom was "used by the Duchess to affirm this false narrative that she supposedly lived this rags-to-riches thing".

Her teams says the allegations subjected her to "humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale".

Speaking of Meghan, Mr Ticktin said: "She got caught. She was lying about her education, that she was getting all these scholarships. Her father paid for her education for goodness sakes, and she got caught with this lie.

"Why else is she putting her sister down? Why else is she putting her father down?

Samantha is suing her sister
Samantha is suing her sister. Picture: LBC

"Why else is she denying her family who has done nothing but good to her all her life? She never had a problem with them at all.

"She's denying them to cover up that she made up this narrative that she went from rags to riches which is nonsense, probably not even realising the harm she would do to her sister."

MailOnline reports that he said Meghan "probably" never realised it would put an "innocent person" in a position where she had "hundreds" of threats against her life and a stalker.

He claimed Meghan fed information for the book to be written, making her liable.

Meghan's lawyer, Michael Kump, said the remarks were "offensive to my client".

"Not every perceived slight ought to be litigated and that's true here. Plaintiff is taking issue with Meghan's own impressions of her own childhood growing up but that's not a proper subject matter for a court of law," he said.

Read more: Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle be attending King Charles's Coronation?

Meghan is being sued for alleged defamation
Meghan is being sued for alleged defamation. Picture: Alamy

"The statements at issue here are not defamatory as a matter of law… the right to voice opinions and even criticise are guaranteed by the First Amendment.

"Courts have held pretrial dismissal is necessary in defamation cases because of the chilling effect these cases have on first amendment rights."

He argued that of then allegedly defamatory statements alleged by Samantha, seven should not be considered because Meghan did not write Finding Freedom, and then said comments to Oprah were not defamatory if put in context.

Read more: Harry and Meghan will attend King Charles' coronation if royals grant 'one major condition'

Judge Honeywell, who will issue a written judgement, said: "I'm really struggling with trying to find under Florida law that defendant Markle published the allegedly defamatory statements."

Meghan and Harry are facing having to sit for depositions and get grilled by Samantha's lawyers, including on claims about royals being "racist" – though Judge Honeywell warned the case is "ripe for dismissal".

Samantha, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair – said Finding Freedom and the Oprah interview were used to destroy her reputation and credibility.

She takes issues with her half sister's claim she was an "only child" and that they last met 18 years ago.

The lawsuit also says she has complained about a PR representative for Meghan, Jason Knauf, who said she was "promiscuous and a bad mother who lost custody of all three of her children from different fathers".

Samantha has attacked Meghan before, including in her memoir "The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister".

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