LONDON — A British media company lost its its appeal Thursday against a judge’s ruling that it invaded the privacy of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
The Court of Appeal in London dismissed the effort by Associated Newspapers to overturn a ruling issued in February by the High Court, which found in Meghan’s favor.
In February, Judge Mark Warby concluded that the duchess “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private,” and the articles had “interfered with that reasonable expectation.”
He ordered Associated Newspapers — the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline — to make an interim payment of 450,000 pounds ($625,000) toward Meghan’s legal costs, and said further “financial remedies” would be dealt with later.
Issues relating to copyright of the letter would need to be settled at a trial, he said.
Despite her victory, the appeal case did not go smoothly for the duchess. Last month, she apologized for misleading the court about her cooperation with the authors of a book about her and Harry, “Finding Freedom,” Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand.
The newspaper group argued that Meghan wrote the letter to her father knowing it might be published. They said she made private information public by cooperating with the “Finding Freedom” authors.
Although Meghan’s lawyers had denied that the couple worked with the authors, their former communications director, Jason Knauf, said that he gave the authors information, and discussed it with Harry and Meghan.
“I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court,” she said.
Knauf also said in his witness statement that Meghan “asked me to review the text of the letter, saying ‘obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked.’”
Knauf said Meghan asked whether she should address her father in the letter as “Daddy,” adding that “in the unfortunate event that it leaked, it would pull at the heartstrings.”
Meghan and Prince Harry first announced a privacy suit against Associated Newspapers in October 2019, before they left their roles as senior royals.
At the time, they sued Associated Newspapers for breach of privacy and copyright over articles published in February 2019, which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter she sent to her father in May 2018. When they filed the suit, Harry put out an angry statement against the British tabloids for a “ruthless campaign” against his wife.
“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” he said. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
Meghan and Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, wed in a star-studded ceremony in May 2018 at Windsor Castle. A health issue prevented her father from attending and Prince Charles, Harry’s father, walked Meghan down the aisle.
Associated Press contributed.