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Victory for Duchess Meghan as UK tabloid court appeal dismissed

Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaks during the annual Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House in London, Britain March 5, 2020. Picture: Paul Edwards/Pool via Reuters

Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaks during the annual Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House in London, Britain March 5, 2020. Picture: Paul Edwards/Pool via Reuters

Published Dec 2, 2021

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By Michael Holden

A British court dismissed an appeal by a tabloid paper against a ruling that it had breached the privacy of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, by printing parts of a handwritten letter she wrote to her estranged father.

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The Mail on Sunday newspaper was seeking to overturn a High Court ruling that it breached Meghan's privacy and copyright by publishing parts of the letter she sent to her father Thomas Markle in August 2018, three months after her wedding to Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth's grandson.

The decision spares Meghan from having to appear at a trial in which her father would also have given evidence.

The appeal was launched after high court judge Mark Warby earlier this year ruled in Meghan's favour, concluding the paper should print a front-page apology and pay her legal bills.

Meghan said on Thursday the court victory she secured against The Mail on Sunday was a victory for anyone who felt scared to stand up for what is right in life, and said the time had come for the newspaper industry to change.

"While this win is precedent setting, 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," she said in a statement.

"The courts have held the defendant to account, and my hope is that we all begin to do the same. Because as far removed as it may seem from your personal life, it’s not. Tomorrow it could be you."

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After her original court victory, Meghan said the paper and its publisher had been held accountable for their "illegal and dehumanizing practices".

"The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep," she said.

Lawyers for the Mail argued that Meghan, 40, had penned the letter knowing it could become public, a suggestion she rejected.

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During the hearings at the appeal court last month, the paper's legal team produced a witness statement from her former communications chief Jason Knauf which they said cast doubt on her account.

Knauf's statement also showed she and Harry had discussed providing assistance to authors of a biography about the couple, something she had previously denied.

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That led to the duchess apologising but said she had not intended to mislead the court.

Meghan penned the five-page letter to Markle following a collapse in their relationship in the run-up to her wedding, which her father missed due to ill health and after he admitted posing for paparazzi pictures.

The paper, which published extracts in February 2019, argued Markle wanted the letter public to respond to anonymous comments by Meghan's friends in interviews with the U.S. magazine People.

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