Final arguments heard in Mail on Sunday appeal over Markle letter

Final arguments heard in Mail on Sunday appeal over Markle letter
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Thomas Markle Jr writes apology letter to Meghan and Harry on Big Brother

Final arguments are being heard in a three-day legal battle by the Mail on Sunday to overturn a High Court ruling on its publication of a letter written by Meghan Markle to her estranged father.

Lawyers for the newspaper have said that the Duchess of Sussex crafted the letter to her father so that it would “pull at the heartstrings” if it was ever revealed to the public. They are trying to over turn the previous High Court ruling that the publication was unlawful by basing their case on this new evidence.

The Duchess of Sussex’s lawyers have said that, although Meghan Markle knew it might be leaked to the press, she did not want the letter to be seen publicly.

They argued in the court of appeal this morning that Meghan Markle would have had ample opportunity to disclose the letter to authors of an unauthorised biography but was “simply not prepared to go there”.

The Duchess of Sussex, 40, sued the newspaper’s publisher, Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter sent to her father Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Mail on Sunday’s legal bid to overturn a High Court ruling its publication of a letter written by Meghan Markle to her estranged father.

The three-day hearing at the Court of Appeal will end today, with a judgment expected at a later date.

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 10:57
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Mail on Sunday’s legal battle against letter ruling enters final day

The Mail on Sunday is continuing its legal battle to overturn a High Court ruling on its publication of a letter written by Meghan Markle to her estranged father.

The Duchess of Sussex, 40, sued the newspaper’s publisher, Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter sent to her father Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018.

The High Court ruled earlier this year that ANL’s publication of the letter was unlawful, entering summary judgment for Meghan and avoiding the need for a trial.

ANL is challenging that ruling at the Court of Appeal in a three-day hearing that will come to an end today.

Mail on Sunday’s appeal against ruling over Meghan Markle letter enters final day

Publisher’s lawyers focus on witness statement made by Duchess of Sussex’s former aide

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 11:00
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Court pauses to observe two-minute silence

The hearing at the Court of Appeal in London has paused as those present stand to observe a two-minute silence to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day.

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 11:03
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Letter ‘drafted with understanding it could be leaked’, newspaper’s lawyers suggest

Lawyers for Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) told senior judges on Tuesday that they wanted to rely on a recent witness statement made by Jason Knauf – the Duchess of Sussex’s former aide – in their legal bid to overturn the ruling.

The court yesterday heard the Duchess of Sussex told Mr Knauf a handwritten letter to her estranged father was “drafted with the understanding that it could be leaked”.

Mr Knauf, who was communications secretary to Meghan and Harry until March 2019, said the duchess had indicated to him in August of the previous year that she recognised it was possible her father, Thomas Markle, would make the letter public.

More on that story here:

Mail on Sunday suggests Meghan’s letter to father not intended to be ‘private’

Court of Appeal is reviewing ruling that found newspaper acted unlawfully against duchess

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 11:12
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Meghan Markle had ample opportunity to disclose letter to authors but chose not to, says lawyer

Meghan Markle’s lawyer has argued she had ample opportunity to disclose the letter to the authors of an unauthorised biography about her and her husband but was “simply not prepared to go there”.

The Duchess of Sussex’s former aide Jason Knauf has claimed her handwritten letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle was “drafted with the understanding that it could be leaked”.

In a witness statement, Mr Knauf said the book – Finding Freedom – was “discussed on a routine basis”, which was “discussed directly with the duchess multiple times in person and over email”.

Mr Knauf also discussed planning a meeting with the authors to provide background information and said Meghan had given him several briefing points to share with them, including information on how she had “very minimal contact” with her half-siblings during her childhood.

Meghan on Wednesday apologised for “misleading” the court over her recollection of the information given by her aides to the authors.

Her lawyer today argued she only regarded the “possibility” that the letter could be leaked into the public domain. He also told the court she gave little information about her father to Mr Knauf for the authors and made absolutely no reference to the letter.

“There is no real prospect that the evidence the defendant now relies on could show anything higher than a case that she regarded as a possibility,” he told the Court of Appeal.

“What is striking is how little information about her father she was prepared to contemplate Mr Knauf giving to the authors and made absolutely no reference to the letter. She is simply not prepared to go there.”

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 12:45
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Court adjourns over lunch

The appeal hearing for Meghan Markle’s case against Associated Newspapers Limited, the publishers of the Mail on Sunday, has been paused over lunch.

The hearing will start again at 2:10 pm.

Holly Bancroft11 November 2021 13:16
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Key disclosures in Palace aide’s correspondence with Meghan and Harry over unauthorised biography

While the court of appeal breaks for lunch, here are some of the key moments from Palace communications chief, Jason Knauf’s, correspondence with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – as revealed to the court yesterday.

The Duke of Sussex asked Jason Knauf in December 2018 if he would give the writers of an unauthorised biography about the couple a “rough idea of what [Meghan’s] been through over the last two years?”.

He described the “media onslaught” and “cyber bullying on a different scale”. He then asked: “So if you aren’t planning on telling them, can I?!”

Neither the Duke or Duchess of Sussex ever had any direct contact with the book authors.

The Duke of Sussex acknowledged to Jason Knauf in December 2018 that “we have to be able to say we didn’t have anything to do with it” and said that the couple would be unable to put the book’s authors in touch with any of Meghan Markle’s friends.

Mr Knauf, who did meet with the authors, told Meghan Markle in December 2018 that he “took them through everything.”

He said: “They are going to time the book for run-up to the baby being born and it is going to be very positive. They are prioritising the US market and will position it as a celebration of you that corrects the record on a number of fronts. I will stay in close contact with them.”

Meghan Markle told Mr Knauf in August 2018 that she had written the letter to her father “with the understanding that it could be leaked”.

Holly Bancroft11 November 2021 14:10
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Letter was best evidence to refute magazine article’s ‘royal attack’ on Thomas Markle, says publisher’s lawyer

Andrew Caldecott QC, representing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), has argued the Mail on Sunday published the letter sent from Meghan Markle to her father to refute “nasty and untrue” allegations made about him in a People magazine article.

The barrister argued there was a public interest in correcting the claims made during an interview with five friends of the Duchess of Sussex.

Mr Caldecott said the letter to Mr Markle from Meghan was “not a loving letter, not a generous letter”, contrary to how it was presented in the People article.

He added: “What evidence is there to refuse that than the time and text of the letter? We pleaded it was necessary not because that is a legal test but because it was necessary to put the public right about these matters.

“Mr Markle has been royally attacked in the People article.”

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 15:20
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Judges will ‘take time’ to consider judgments ‘with great care’

The three-day hearing at the Court of Appeal has been heard by Sir Geoffrey Vos, master of the rolls, Dame Victoria Sharp, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Lord Justice Bean.

The judges have now retired to consider their judgment, which will be handed down at a later date.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, master of the rolls, said they would “take time” to consider their judgments and the lawyers’ submissions “with great care”.

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 16:24
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That’s the end of our live coverage for today

Chiara Giordano11 November 2021 17:54

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