British publication Mail on Sunday recently published a letter written by Meghan Markle to her estranged father Thomas Markle, a move that has prompted the Duchess of Sussex to file suit against Associated Newspapers, the tabloid’s parent company, claiming misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act. Prince Harry confirmed the filing in a statement on Tuesday, saying that the lawsuit follows from “a ruthless campaign [against Markle] that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”
“This particular legal action,” Prince Harry stated, “hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behavior by British tabloid media. The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question.” In addition to the “unlawful publication of this private document,” he continued, “they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.”
Schillings, the firm representing Markle in the case, stated on Tuesday that “given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy [and] infringement of copyright.” The London-based law firm, which bills itself as protecting its clients “in times of crisis, from media intrusion to cyberattacks, family conflict and divorce,” asserts that the publication of the letter “is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband.”
The lawsuit at hand comes 7 years after Prince William and Kate Middleton took legal action against a French media outlet for publishing topless photos of Middleton while the pair was on vacation in Provence. The paparazzi that took the photos of the royal couple initially attempted to sell the images to British outlets, but ultimately, sold them to French publication Closer, which promoted the images as, "the future Queen of England as you have never seen her... and [as] you will never see her again!"
In response to the publication of the images in 2012, Prince William and Middleton issued a statement saying that they "have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner,” and followed up with a lawsuit, claiming invasion of privacy.
Despite Closer’s counsel’s claims that the magazine should be shielded from liability because the images are of “public interest,” the court sided with the royals, handing “the maximum fine of $53,500 to both Laurence Pieau, an editor of Closer’s French edition, and Ernesto Mauri, chief executive of Italian publisher Mondadori, the magazine’s owner,” per Reuters.
More than that, “Two photographers from a Paris agency, who denied taking the photographs, were ordered to pay smaller fines after also being convicted under French privacy laws.”