The ruling also got Meghan off the hook for misleading the court by denying that she had engaged with the authors of a flattering book about the couple. Her apology for the misstatement, which she blamed on flawed memory, was a PR embarrassment, but Thursday’s decision means it won’t be more than that.
The statement, the court said, had no bearing on the legal question of whether The Mail violated his privacy. “It was, at best, an unfortunate oversight on his part, but it does not seem to me to relate to the issues raised in the grounds of appeal,” said Judge Geoffrey Vos, writing on behalf of the three panels of judges.
Lawyers for the Mail’s publisher, Associated Newspapers, argued that Meghan’s involvement in the attempt to shape the book shows a pattern of careful handling of her public image. As a public figure, they said, she should have been aware that there was a risk that the letter would leak. The Mail obtained the letter, presumably from Mr Markle, and published excerpts from it in February 2019.
The Mail cited emails between the Duchess and her then communications secretary Jason Knauf in which she asked him to review a draft of the letter. “Obviously everything I wrote is included in the fact that it could be disclosed, so I was meticulous in my choice of words,” she wrote.
The Duchess, he said, asked if addressing Mr Markle as a ‘daddy’ would be a smart public relations strategy. “Since I’ve never called him that dad,” she wrote, “it may make sense to open as such (although he’s less than paternal), and in the unfortunate case where he would flee, it would pull on the sensitive cords. “