Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has won a High Court bid to keep secret the identities of five friends who gave an anonymous interview to U.S. magazine People defending her against criticism.
This is the latest salvo in Markle’s ongoing legal battle against Associated Newspapers, publisher of outlets the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online. She sued the group for breach of privacy and copyright infringement after the Mail on Sunday published excerpts from a 2018 letter Markle sent to her father Thomas Markle Sr. Associated Newspapers denies her claims.
“To force the claimant, as the defendant urges this court to do, to disclose their identities to the public at this stage would be to exact an unacceptably high price for pursuing her claim for invasion of privacy against the defendant in respect of its disclosure of the letter,” Markle’s attorney Justin Rushbrooke told the court in a written submission.
“Given the close factual nexus between the letter and the events leading up to the defendant’s decision to publish its contents, it would be a cruel irony were she required to pay that price before her claim has even been determined.”
Associated Newspapers’ attorney Anthony White said in his written submission to the court: “Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it.”
Markle’s friends’ names are already recorded with the court. With Wednesday’s court decision, their identities will not be revealed to the public.
In May, Associated Newspapers won the first round of the battle when the judge struck allegations that Associated Newspapers acted “dishonestly” by excluding passages of the letter, as well as claims that the publisher stirred up problems between the father and daughter, and that the outlet had an agenda to publish harmful stories about Markle.
In July, court documents revealed that Markle felt “unprotected” by the British monarchy.
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