Meghan Markle could still face her father in court after a newspaper yesterday launched a bid to appeal the case she won last month.
The Mail on Sunday’s lawyers gave the High Court 10 reasons why they say a senior judge got it wrong when he ruled in her favour.
The Duchess of Sussex won her claim the newspaper breached her privacy by publishing extracts from a letter she sent her estranged father Thomas Markle.
The Duchess of Sussex could still face her father in court after a newspaper yesterday launched a bid to appeal the case she won last month. They are pictured in a preview of their Oprah ‘tell-all’ interview
Lord Justice Warby handed victory to her in a ‘summary judgment’ in February without a trial being held.
Now the Mail on Sunday – The Daily Mail’s sister newspaper – is seeking permission to appeal, saying the case ‘cried out’ for the duchess to be cross-examined on oath.
Meghan won her claim that the Mail on Sunday breached her privacy by publishing extracts from a letter she sent her estranged father Thomas Markle
If an appeal was both granted and then won, Meghan would again face the prospect of a courtroom clash with Mr Markle, who backs the newspaper’s case.
Among the 10 grounds of appeal put forward yesterday, it was argued Mr Markle’s right to give his side of the story was infringed.
He has said he wanted his ‘day in court’ to explain why he had decided to make parts of the letter public.
It was also argued the judge had wrongly rejected a chance to hear evidence from the ‘Palace Four’.
These senior royal courtiers – Jason Knauf, former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Samantha Cohen, their former private secretary, Sara Latham, their former director of communications, and Christian Jones, their former deputy communications secretary – have offered to ‘shed light’ on the case by taking the witness stand at a trial.
But Lord Justice Warby had ‘disregarded the potential significance’ of what they had to offer, said Antony White QC.
Now the Mail on Sunday – the Daily Mail’s sister newspaper – is seeking permission to appeal, saying the case ‘cried out’ for the duchess to be cross-examined on oath. If an appeal was both granted and then won, Meghan would again face the prospect of a courtroom clash with Mr Markle
In written submissions, he said: ‘The judge wrongly dismissed the possibility that a trial would enable us to prove our case.
‘He wrongly decided that no evidence of significance would emerge between now and trial, when in fact there were good reasons to believe that further evidence would come to light, including the evidence of the Palace Four, other witnesses, and documents.’
The publisher argues that Meghan co-operated with the book ‘Finding Freedom’
The judge’s ruling was also ‘inconsistent’ with a legal precedent set in a privacy case in 2013, Mr White said.
That case involved Boris Johnson’s lovechild by art consultant Helen Macintyre. She wanted to keep the paternity of her daughter a secret, but the Court of Appeal ruled the public had a right to know, after hearing that she had spoken to friends about the identity of the girl’s father and had speculated about it in a magazine interview.
Mr White said that, in the Meghan case, Lord Justice Warby had failed to take into account claims that five of her closest friends had given details of the rift with her father to US magazine People, including revealing the letter.
She had also allegedly ‘extensively collaborated’ with the authors of gushing royal biography Finding Freedom.
Meghan, 39, handwrote the letter to Mr Markle after he failed to attend her 2018 royal wedding. She said publishing parts of it had also infringed her copyright.
In his ruling last month, Lord Justice Warby concluded the duchess had ‘a reasonable expectation’ that the ‘inherently private and personal’ letter would remain private.
There was no need for a trial, the judge said, because ‘there is no prospect that a different judgment would be reached’.
But the newspaper’s lawyers said Meghan had yet to disclose evidence in response to key claims being made, and she had ‘undermined or diminished’ the weight of her own privacy by collaborating with People magazine and with the authors of the gushing royal biography Finding Freedom.
It was also argued the judge had wrongly rejected a chance to hear evidence from the ‘Palace Four’. Pictured are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Commonwealth Day Service last year
They said Lord Justice Warby had failed to take into account that her case had ‘shifted’ after she admitted that she had authorised the Finding Freedom writers to be briefed.
Mr White said: ‘This shifting case cried out for investigation at trial through cross-examination of the [duchess].’
Ian Mill QC, for Meghan, sought an order requiring a statement about the duchess’s victory on the front page of the Mail on Sunday and the home page of MailOnline.
The judge said he would make an order but that it would be ‘considerably more limited’ than the duchess sought.
Lord Justice Warby refused the paper permission to appeal his ruling, but added: ‘The Court of Appeal of course might take a different view.’
The newspaper will now lodge an application directly with the Court of Appeal.