Meghan Markle Launches Legal Bid to Stop Publisher from Naming Friends Who Gave Anonymous Interview

Victoria Murphy
·3 mins read
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

From Town & Country

The Duchess of Sussex’s legal battle with the publishers of the Mail on Sunday has already seen several explosive claims made in court papers. And today, a new piece of legal paperwork filed by Meghan accuses Associated Newspapers of a "vicious" attempt to expose her friends and describes the publisher as “playing a media game with real lives.”

Meghan filed a witness statement this morning as part of an application to the High Court to stop Associated Newspapers from naming her five friends who gave an anonymous interview to People Magazine about her last year. The paperwork claims that Associated Newspapers “is threatening to publish the names of five women—five private citizens—who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a U.S. media outlet more than a year ago.”

Meghan’s statement describes each of the women as “a private citizen, young mother,” and claims that “for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.” The women’s names have been provided in a confidential section of previous court documents.

Meghan’s witness statement reads:

“Associated Newspapers, the owner of The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, is threatening to publish the names of five women—five private citizens—who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a U.S. media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behavior of Britain’s tabloid media.

“These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial. It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case—that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.

“Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy. Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.

“The Mail on Sunday is playing a media game with real lives.

“I respectfully ask the court to treat this legal matter with the sensitivity it deserves, and to prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from breaking precedent and abusing the legal process by identifying these anonymous individuals - a privilege that these newspapers in fact rely upon to protect their own unnamed sources.”

The Duchess is suing Associated Newspapers Limited for the alleged breach of privacy, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 after it published extracts from a letter she wrote to her father. The publisher has previously said it will be defending the case “vigorously.”

The Mail on Sunday published extracts of the letter following the People interview and Thomas Markle subsequently said in the newspaper that he allowed them to do so to “defend” himself. Meghan has repeatedly claimed in court documents that she did not know about the interview in advance.

The newspaper group won the first stage of the legal battle earlier this year when Justice Warby ruled in favor of the publisher and struck out parts of Meghan’s claim against them.

Court documents filed by Meghan at the start of this month claimed the Duchess was “pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself” during her time as a working member of the royal family.

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