MEGHAN Markle lost the first step in his confidentiality case when a High Court judge ruled that some of his arguments were “embarrassing”, “vague” and “irrelevant”.
The lawyers tonight described his defeat as “humiliation” and “complete disaster”.
Justice Warby overturned allegations that Associated Newspapers, the owners of Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, acted dishonestly and with malicious software by publishing a letter she wrote to her father.
Her central claim – that the letter’s publication violated privacy, copyright and data protection laws – should see her face to face with Papa Thomas later in the year.
In a written decision, the judge said that the allegations he dismissed were “vague and lacking in detail”.
He added: “The case as it stands is” embarrassing “in the old sense that it places the accused in an impossible position, so that she cannot say what case she should face. “
Outside the court, Mark Stephens, a partner in London law firm Howard Kennedy, said: “For Meghan, this judgment is like a train plowing an oil tanker on a level crossing.
“It is a complete disaster. She was humiliated today. Each complaint filed by Associated Newspapers has been fully and fully substantiated by the judge. “
He added, “She would be well advised to settle down and leave. If she were to be tried, the testimony of Meghan and her father Thomas on the letter and their flaw would be examined under oath.
“If she is to be humiliated in person, there will be no worse outcome for her. “
Gavin Millar QC of Matrix Chambers said: “The case before the court has been exaggerated.
“This is a simple statement regarding a letter and five articles – and cannot be turned into a mini public inquiry into Associated’s reports on them. “
For Meghan, this judgment is like a train plowing an oil tanker on a level crossing.
But Schillings, whose famous lawyer David Sherborne represents Meghan, insisted: “Today’s decision makes it very clear that the essentials of this case are not changing and will continue to move forward.
“The Duchess’ rights have been violated – the legal boundaries around privacy have been crossed. “
The decision came a week after Meghan, 38, and her husband Harry, 35, watched the opening arguments via video link from their new base in Los Angeles.
Meghan did not speak to Thomas, 75, before her marriage in May 2018. He did not show up after a heart attack.
During the full hearing, lawyers will question whether Meghan had a reasonable expectation of the confidentiality of her handwritten letter despite the disclosure of its contents by friends.
She said she did not know that the five friends had spoken to the American magazine People – and that she could be questioned about it under oath.
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Thomas, who lives in Mexico, said he felt “vilified” by the magazine article and therefore forwarded the letter to the press.
The associated newspapers had offered not to charge their fees for the pre-trial hearing if Meghan dropped her opposition to the dismissal of the complaints, but she refused.
At the end of the case, the newspaper owners should now ask him and Harry to pay their £ 50,000 in legal fees in addition to the couple’s £ 60,000 bill. The full audience will drive costs even higher.
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