Duchess Meghan's Lawyers Fight Back as Mail on Sunday Legal Case Continues

Carolyn Durand
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

From ELLE

The Duchess of Sussex has rebuked suggestions that she didn’t help her father financially in the latest set of legal filings submitted by her attorneys in her privacy case against Associated Newspapers and the Mail on Sunday. The case centers on a handwritten letter sent to her father, extracts of which were published by the Mail on Sunday, which she claims were both misleading and breached her privacy.

“This is the Mail’s fourth separate request for additional information or clarification. As has been filed in this latest submission, we believe the requests are gratuitous and a further violation and intrusion of privacy of both the Claimant and her father,” a source close to the Duchess of Sussex shared with ELLE.com, adding, “A fourth request for additional evidence and clarification is unprecedented and has no legal necessity.”

The documents provide more detail into Meghan’s personal relationship with her father and how their relationship broke down irretrievably after he gave a series of paid interviews prior to her wedding to Prince Harry. The documents from Meghan's lawyers show she has been a dutiful daughter, concerned for her father's health and wellbeing both medically and financially. She began aiding him financially in January 2014, after she become a successful actress on the television show Suits, and stopped in May 2018 when she married Prince Harry.

The documents also put to rest suggestions, made by her sister and various publications, that Meghan didn’t help put herself through college with scholarships, grants, and financial aid and her father paid solely for her education.

“Mr. Markle did not pay for all of the Claimant’s college tuition. The Claimant’s mother also contributed toward her university costs. In addition, the Claimant received scholarships for academic achievement, which reduced the payable tuition fees,” the filing states. "The Claimant also undertook a work-study program whereby income she made from working on campus after class was applied directly to supplement and lower her tuition costs, thus personally contributing to her tuition as well."

The statements entered into the court record depict a once-warm relationship between the Duchess of Sussex and her now-estranged father. “Mr. Markle and the Claimant had a very close father/daughter relationship throughout her childhood and remained close until he was targeted three years ago by intrusive UK tabloid media,” the documents state. However, Meghan's lawyers concede the relationship broke down after her wedding and she has not been in touch with her father since, despite still caring for his wellbeing. She has a “long-standing history of caring for her father’s health” and hope that the media would respect his privacy: “Although the Claimant and her father have not been in contact since then, the Claimant has continued to advocate for the privacy and protection of her father from media intrusion.”

The court filing, by her attorney David Sherbourne, is yet another proceeding in the duchess's prolonged battle with the Mail on Sunday. A source close to the Sussexes suggested this was a fishing expedition by the newspaper's legal team in order to create headlines. “We believe the Mail is no longer using the litigation process for its defense and is fixated on trying to cause more harm through headline generation. It highlights the fact they are focused on dragging this process out, and are abusing the court process to use irrelevant personal details for ‘exclusives’ prior to trial in order to hide their unlawful actions and distract from the matter at the heart of this case.”

Earlier this week, the duchess's lawyers also addressed questions submitted by attorneys for Associated Newspapers related to five friends of the Duchess who participated in a magazine article unbeknownst to Meghan. Friday's court proceeding reiterated that Meghan learned of her friends’ involvement only after the article was published. A source told ELLE.com, “The Duchess of Sussex is not on trial, her friends are not on trial, the Duchess’s father is not on trial. The Mail on Sunday and its unlawful actions are.”

The Mail on Sunday said it will continue to vigorously fight claims that it breached Duchess Meghan’s privacy or copyright, or edited the letter to make it misleading.

If she wins the case, Duchess Meghan has vowed to donate any damages to anti-bullying charities.

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