The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have not collaborated with the authors of a recent book about them, Meghan’s lawyers said at the high court during the final hearing of her lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday.
Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers (ANL), publisher of Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, for articles reproducing part of her handwritten letter to her former father, Thomas Markle, 76, in August 2018.
She claims that posting sections of the letter in the newspaper and online in February last year was an abuse of her private information, violated her copyright and violated data protection law.
At Monday’s final hearing, ANL sought leave to amend its written defense to argue that Meghan “cooperated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to publish their version of certain events.”
In written submissions, the Duchess’s attorney, Justin Rushbrooke QC, said: “The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, they were not questioned for it, nor provided any photographs to the authors of the book.
He said neither Harry nor Meghan spoke to the authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who, Rushbrooke added, “did not feel that the plaintiff wanted the contents of the letter reproduced in the delivered”.
Antony White QC, for ANL, said in written submissions that Finding Freedom gave “all appearance of having been written with their [the couple’s] extensive cooperation ”.
He said that ANL wished to modify its defense to allege that Meghan “had caused or allowed information to be provided directly or indirectly, and cooperated with, the perpetrators of [Finding Freedom]including giving them or allowing them to receive information about the letter ”.
White claimed the book detailed Meghan’s feelings on a variety of personal matters. Either Meghan “has given or authorized others to give this information to the authors”, or her friends have provided it “against her will” or the information “is the product of the invention” of the authors and / or sources. authors ”, he maintained. .
If it was invented by the authors or their sources, “it is inevitable that the plaintiff complained and most likely took legal action against the authors,” he added.
The court heard allegations that Meghan discussed the letter with the Kensington Palace communications team before sending it because she wanted to use it “as part of a media strategy”.
Alexandra Marzec, also for ANL, claimed the Duchess “was using her friends as public relations agents” to influence the media in the months before the letter was sent.
The publisher maintains that Meghan wrote the letter “with a view to it being read by others and / or disclosed to the public, or knowing it was highly likely.”
Meghan’s lawyers have argued that the references in the book to her letter to her father were simply “excerpts from the letter taken from the accused’s own articles”.
Court documents reveal that the overall total cost of the lawsuit for Meghan is £ 1,798,043.57 and £ 1,230,425 for ANL.
In a preliminary hearing last month, judge Judge Warby ruled in favor of the Duchess in allowing the identities of five friends who spoke anonymously to People magazine in the United States to remain protected “for at least the moment ”. The five were named in confidential court documents.
Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in MoS and three in Mail Online. The headline of the first MoS article read: ‘Revealed: Letter Showing the True Tragedy of Meghan’s Break-up with a Father She Said’ Broke Her Heart into a Million Pieces ‘.’
ANL totally denies the allegations, especially the Duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says she will strongly dispute the case.
The trial is set to begin in January and will last between seven and ten days.
Monday’s hearing before Judge Francesca Kaye will also deal with requests for further disclosure and trial instructions.