Staff at Kensington Palace helped the Duchess of Sussex write a seemingly ‘private’ letter to her former father Thomas Markle, court documents show today.
Meghan Markle is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over an article reproducing parts of the handwritten letter sent to Mr Markle, 76, in August 2018.
The Duchess claimed that the editor of Mail On Sunday violated data protection and copyright laws by revealing excerpts from the “private and confidential” letter.
But LNA lawyers have claimed in documents filed with the High Court in London that the letter was not the 39-year-old royal’s “own intellectual creation”.
They claim that the Kensington Palace communications team “helped draft” an electronic project, the letter of which was then “copied”.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are leaving Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9 of this year, for their last royal engagement before leaving royal life.
Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Limited over an article reproducing parts of a handwritten note she sent to her father Thomas Markle (pictured together) in August 2018
The documents state: “It is up to the applicant (Meghan) to prove that she was the only person who contributed to the drafting of the electronic project.
“Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the Respondent (ANL) infers that Jason Knauf and / or other members of the Kensington Palace communications team contributed to the drafting of the electronic project.
“The claimant, Jason Knauf and other members of the team know precisely which parts were the result of such contribution.
It comes after it emerged that the Duchess’ action against the ANL over privacy will only be heard in the fall of next year after being postponed last month for a ‘confidential reason’ .
Judge Warby agreed on Oct. 29 to adjourn the trial – which was scheduled to begin Jan. 11 next year – until the fall after an earlier private hearing.
Thomas Markle shows off a memento he keeps on Harry and Meghan’s fireplace from their wedding he was unable to attend, during his Channel 5 documentary in January this year
An artist’s sketch of the court of Mr. Justice Warby (bottom left) Antony White QC (bottom right), for LNA and Meghan’s attorney, David Sherborne, in a virtual hearing at the High Court on April 24
The judge said the private hearing was necessary to protect “the confidentiality of the information relied on” by Meghan in her request to postpone the trial.
The judge said confidential information was the “main” reason the Duchess wanted the trial adjourned – and the LNA did not oppose her request.
However, LNA lawyers asked the judge to review Mr Markle’s situation, saying he was “old and sick” and wanted and intended to testify at the trial.
The judge said other reasons put forward by the Duchess’s legal team in support of the postponement included Meghan’s request for summary judgment – a legal step in which Meghan seeks to resolve the case without a trial.
Harry and Meghan after their wedding in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018
The court will hear the summary judgment application in January next year, when Meghan’s lawyers argue that ANL’s defense has no chance of succeeding in trial.
His lawyers have also tried to challenge the ruling of another judge who allowed ANL to rely on an unauthorized biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex called Finding Freedom in its defense of the claim – which has was dismissed by Justice Warby.
At another remote hearing last month, Judge Francesca Kaye addressed issues relating to the disclosure of relevant documents before trial.
The judge turned down a request by Meghan’s lawyers for Paul Dacre – the former editor of the Daily Mail and current editor of DMG Media, the holding company of ANL – to be added as a “custodian” of potentially relevant documents which allegedly relate to the publisher’s belief that publishing the Duchess’s letter to her father was in the public interest.
Judge Warby (pictured) agreed on October 29 to adjourn the trial – which was due to start January 11 next year – until the fall after an earlier private hearing
Sections of the letter to Mr Markle were published in the newspaper and online in February last year, and it was announced the Duchess would take legal action in October.
The headline of the article read: ‘Revealed: Letter showing the real tragedy of Meghan’s break-up with a father who she said’ broke her heart into a million pieces’. “
The Duchess seeks damages from ANL, the publisher of the newspaper and operator of the website, for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and violation of data protection law.
ANL totally denies the allegations, especially the Duchess’s claim that the letter was altered in any way that changed its meaning, and says she will strongly contest the case.
Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers for five articles, two in the Mail On Sunday and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019.