Meghan Markle loses first round in newspaper lawsuit

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Friday, May 1, 2020
Meghan Markle suing British tabloid over letter to dad
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British royal Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has sued a tabloid newspaper that she claims illegally published a personal letter she wrote to her father.

LONDON -- The Duchess of Sussex lost an early round in a London court Friday when a judge dismissed part of her lawsuit against the publisher of a British newspaper that put out excerpts of a letter to her estranged father.

Meghan sued Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement last year over a series of articles in the Mail on Sunday that reproduced parts of the letter she wrote in August 2018, several months after the former actress known as Meghan Markle married Britain's Prince Harry.

In a ruling on Friday, Judge Mark Warby threw out some of the causes of action argued in her lawsuit, including the claim that the newspaper publisher acted "dishonestly" by quoting only certain passages of her letter.

Warby also struck the claim that Associated Newspapers deliberately "stirred up" a dispute between Meghan and her father, Thomas Markle, and had an agenda to publish intrusive or offensive stories about her.

The judge said the allegations should not be part of the case as it proceeds because he found them irrelevant to establishing if the publisher was guilty of the illegal acts cited in the duchess' lawsuit: misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

However, Warby said the dismissed claims could be revived at a later stage of the case.

Associated Newspapers denies the allegations.

Meghan has previously said that if she won the case, she would donate any damages she might be awarded an anti-bullying charity.

Her lawyers argue that the hand-written letter in question was a "private and intimate" message from a daughter to her father, and accuse the newspaper of targeting Meghan with "distortive, manipulative, and dishonest tactics."

"The duchess' rights were violated; the legal boundaries around privacy were crossed," her lawyers said in a statement Friday.

They expressed surprise that the judge's ruling "suggests that dishonest behavior is not relevant," but added that "the core elements of this case do not change and will continue to move forward."

Thomas Markle was scheduled to walk his daughter down the aisle at her and Prince Harry's wedding ceremony in May 2018, but pulled out at the last minute, citing heart problems.

The former television lighting director has given occasional interviews to the media, complaining in December 2018 that he'd been "ghosted" by Meghan after the wedding.

The interviews and Markle's relationship with his daughter complicated Meghan's entry into the royal family.