News and Commentary

The Daily Mail Issues Public Statement About Meghan Markle After Losing Court Battle
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After losing its latest appeal on a judge’s ruling that it committed copyright infringement against Meghan Markle by printing part of a letter to her estranged father, the Daily Mail issued a frontpage admission of guilt Saturday.

Headlined simply, “The Duchess of Sussex,” the Christmas Day mea culpa acknowledged that its parent company, Associated Newspapers, lost in court, saying, “Following a hearing on 19-20 January 2021, and a further hearing on 5 May 2021, the Court has given judgment for The Duchess of Sussex on her claim for copyright infringement.” It went on, “The Court found that Associated Newspapers infringed her copyright by publishing extracts of her handwritten letter to her father, Thomas Markle, in The Mail on Sunday and in Mail Online.”

The statement concluded by admitting that “financial remedies have been agreed.”

This marks the end of Markle’s three-year court battle with Associated Newspapers. In February the High Court ruled that the publisher had illegally violated the Duchess’ privacy with five articles after it published segments of a letter she had sent her father after her 2018 royal wedding. Judge Mark Warby said that the company’s decision to publish large excerpts of the hand-written letter, which Markle penned after her royal wedding in May 2018, was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.” In March he awarded Markle $625,000 in legal fees related to the case.

Associated Newspapers tried to appeal those rulings in early December and were rebuffed again with senior appeals judge Sir Geoffrey Vos ruling, “Those contents were personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest.”

At the time of that ruling, Meghan offered a statement to Reuters, calling it “a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right.” She added, “What matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create.”

In its analysis of the case, the U.K. Guardian said that Associated Newspapers was likely taken by surprise by Markle’s “all-out war” as the Royal Family typically prefers to settle such cases out of court.

Said the outlet:

 “While the case did not change the law, it was emblematic of the changing balance of power between news organisations and celebrities since a statutory right to privacy was introduced in England and Wales in 2000.

The much-publicised revelations that Meghan had written the letter with the possibility it might be leaked in mind and that one of her team had supplied authors of a book about her with information, apparently with her knowledge, were not enough to override her right to privacy.

It concluded its assessment of the case by pointing out that “British news outlets can still legally publish private correspondence, but they have to be confident that doing so is in the public interest – or, alternatively, be confident that the subject of the story will not sue.”

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