Meghan's High Court newspaper battle hearing today

24 April 2020, 08:26

The Duchess of Sussex has taken legal action against a newspaper
The Duchess of Sussex has taken legal action against a newspaper. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

The first High Court hearing in the Duchess of Sussex’s battle against The Mail on Sunday over publication of a “private and confidential” letter to her estranged father will be held remotely later.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter she wrote to Thomas Markle, 75, in August 2018.

Published in February, the headline on the article read: "Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan's rift with a father she says has 'broken her heart into a million pieces'."

The Duchess announced in October that she would be launching legal action. She is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations - particularly the claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning - and says it will contest the case “with vigour”.

At a preliminary hearing on Friday, the publisher’s lawyers will ask the court to strike out allegations of "dishonesty and malicious intent" from the duchess’ case.

Mr Justice Warby will sit at the High Court, while all legal representatives and journalists will dial in remotely.

The hearing is scheduled to last a day and the judge is set to determine a date for full trial in due course.

The defence issued its central argument in January, stating: "The contents of the letter were not private or confidential, self-evidently or at all."

Earlier this week, Meghan’s defence team surfaced texts she and Prince Harry sent to Mr Markle before their wedding.

Prince Harry wrote in one: "Oh any speaking to the press WILL backfire, trust me Tom. Only we can help u, as we have been trying from day 1”.

It came a day after the couple told the editors of Britain’s four largest tabloids in a letter that they were pursuing a policy of “zero engagement” going forward.