Meghan Markle today lost her court fight to block claims she co-operated with the authors of an explosive book about her private life or allowed her friends to.
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, is accused of feeding personal information to the writers of ‘Finding Freedom,’ to ‘set out her own version of events in a way that is favourable to her.’
The High Court ruling by Judge Francesca Kaye means that the book will now feature as evidence in Meghan’s high stakes privacy battle against Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online.
It also means that she could be questioned under oath about her involvement with the book, which tells the story about her life with the Duke of Sussex.
Meghan Markle today lost her court fight to block claims she co-operated with the authors of ‘Finding Freedom’, an explosive book about her private life
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, is accused of feeding personal information to Omid Scobie (left) and Carolyn Durand (right), the writers of ‘Finding Freedom,’ to ‘set out her own version of events in a way that is favourable to her
Meghan launched a legal action against the Mail on Sunday and its publisher after her father Thomas (together when she was a teenager) shared a letter she sent him after her wedding
Meghan is suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing in February 2019 extracts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
She claimed that it breached her ‘deepest and most private thoughts and feelings,’ and that she had not given permission for the letter to be made public.
Meghan denies that she helped with the book
‘Finding Freedom,’ which the newspaper argues she collaborated with the authors on, was published in August, weeks after lawyers for the newspaper had submitted its defence.
Last week in a pre-trial hearing the publishers Associated Newspapers asked the High Court for permission to include her alleged co-operation in ‘Finding Freedom’ as part of their defence when the trial starts on January 11.
The Duchess’s own legal costs are predicted to be £1.8million for the ten-day trial, when she is also expected to give evidence.
Her legal costs for the pre-trial hearing were revealed to be ‘just under’ £140,000 and she was also ordered to pay the newspaper’s costs of £39,000.
Lawyers for the newspaper claimed it was ‘difficult to see’ how Meghan could complain about extracts of her letter to her estranged father being published when she and Harry had helped with ‘Finding Freedom,’ which exposed their private thoughts and feelings.
At the preliminary hearing, Antony White QC said the biography ‘gives every appearance of having been written with their extensive co-operation’.
‘The book contains a great deal of detailed information about [Meghan’s] personal life, including a number of passages referring to her relationship and communications with her father, and a section referring to the letter which is at the heart of this case,’ he added.
Barrister Justin Rushbrooke (pictured left) is now representing Meghan in the High Court after Meghan dropped her lawyer David Sherborne (right)
He argued that the Duchess, either directly or through friends, allowed the bombshell book to use intimate details to paint a ‘favourable’ picture of her life.
Meghan’s lawyer Justin Rushbrooke QC asked for permission to appeal against the ruling allowing the amendments to the Mail on Sunday’s defence.
The barrister said the ‘inherent improbability’ of Meghan having co-operated with the authors of the biography could be demonstrated by ‘simply comparing what the defendant’s own articles said with what the book said about the letter’ to her estranged father.
Judge Francesca Kaye refused permission to appeal against her ruling, but Meghan’s lawyers could still pursue an appeal to the Court of Appeal.
At last week’s preliminary hearing,Meghan’slawyers denied that she co-operated with authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand on the book and that any reference to her letter in it were simply extracts that were actually taken from the Mail on Sunday article.
They also denied that she used her friends to influence press and public opinion.
In a written submission, Mr Rushbrooke QC, said: ‘The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the book.’
Thomas Markle with a baby Meghan Markle. A picture shown in the Channel 5 documentary called Thomas Markle: My Story, that aired earlier this year
Thomas Markle showing souvenirs he keeps on mantlepiece of Harry and Meghan from the wedding he was unable to attend. Father and daughter have not spoken since
He added that neither Meghan nor Harry to spoke to Mr Scobie or Ms Durand, who he said, ‘were not given the impression that the claimant wanted the contents of the letter to be reproduced in the book’.
Mr Rushbrooke will reportedly be representing Meghan for the remainder of the case after she dropped his colleague, David Sherborne.
The High Court ruling also means that Mr Scobie will also be asked to give evidence in the case, after he submitted a statement maintaining that Meghan did not co-operate in the writing of the book.