The Duke and Duchess of Sussex dialed into a London court hearing on Friday ahead of Meghan’s lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, according to a source close to the couple.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is taking action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement after the newspaper published excerpts of a handwritten letter from Meghan to her father, sent shortly after she and Prince Harry got married in May 2018.
Meghan and Harry would listen to parts of the hearing, including the Duchess’ legal team’s presentation. The pre-trial hearing at London’s high court is being held virtually due to coronavirus restrictions.
Harry, the Duke of Sussex, claimed that the letter, published in part by the Mail on Sunday, had been edited in order that it “purposely misled” readers — a claim, denied by the paper, that he made in an open letter announcing legal action in October.
Meghan is seeking damages for misuse of private information, copyright infringement, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. There is no trial date set yet.
Antony White QC, representing Associated Newspapers, argued at the hearing that Meghan’s contention that her “vulnerable” father was “harassed and humiliated,” “manipulated” and “exploited” should not form part of her case.
White said that the Duchess alleges the publisher was “one of the ‘tabloid’ newspapers which had been deliberately seeking to dig or stir up issues between her and her father” — but that such “complex tests of mental state” of the publisher were “irrelevant to the claim for misuse of private information,” and should be struck out.
In response, Meghan’s lawyer, barrister David Sherborne, warned the court should not be quick to strike out matters, particularly relating to a claimant’s distress.
Throughout the hearing, he argued that the paper had deliberately stirred up a conflict and that newspaper articles about her father had “aggravated the distress she suffered.”
The judge, Mr Justice Warby, reserved judgment and said that his aim would be to make a decision within a week.
The Mail on Sunday and parent company Associated Newspapers has previously said it stands by the original story and has argued that there is “huge and legitimate” public interest in members of the royal family and their “personal relationships.”