A few different outlets ran coverage of Friday’s hearing between lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex and the Mail on Sunday. The hearing was requested by the Mail on Sunday, who sought to get parts of the case thrown out ahead of the trial, which has not been set yet. Ahead of the hearing, Meghan and Harry’s texts to her father were made public. The text showed the rapid decline in Meghan’s relationship to her father as he seemed to cut off contact with her around her 2018 wedding, coincidentally around the time he began selling her out to any media outlet which would pay him.
I’ve looked through several articles, trying to understand what happened during the hearing. From what I can piece together, this was basically a preview of both sides’ legal strategies. The Mail will be arguing that yes, they lied and misrepresented a lot of stuff about Meghan’s letter to her father as well as willfully misrepresenting what they knew of her relationship with her father, but that misrepresentation (or “series of lies”) does not rise to level of malicious harassment or offensive, intrusive faux-reporting. Meghan’s side says duh, of course it was malicious and the papers are why her relationship with her father utterly disintegrated. From Omid Scobie’s piece in Harper’s Bazaar:
After a hearing lasting over six hours, a legal team for The Mail on Sunday chose not to argue against whether five articles about Duchess Meghan’s letter—two in The Mail on Sunday, and three on Mail Online—were dishonest. Anthony White QC (Queen’s Counsel) also chose not to argue against an “agenda” or “campaign of intrusive. . . or offensive” stories. Instead, Associated Newspapers, the Mail’s publisher, claimed that the issues raised were not relevant to the case.
The British tabloid, who admitted to having a “warm” relationship with Thomas Markle, attempted to strike out the Duchess of Sussex’s claim that nine “dishonest” articles published in the outlet demonstrate an agenda against her. However, the paper did not object to the argument that the letter sent to her father in August 2018 was reported through “misleading” cherry-picked excerpts.
David Sherborne, QC for the duchess, said, “It is the defendant’s actions in stirring up, creating this dispute that they use as justification for publishing the contents of the letter.” Sherborne added that it would be “complete fallacy” to dismiss claims that the Mail on Sunday had harassed and manipulated her father simply because she has not been in contact with him.
Meghan is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement, and breach of the Data Protection Act in the U.K. A source close to Sussexes confirms to BAZAAR.com that should the duchess win the case, she plans to donate damages (over and above legal costs) to an anti-bullying charity. Judge Mr. Justice Warby reserved judgment in the case and a date has yet to be set for the main trial.
I did look at the Daily Mail’s coverage just to see how they were going to cover being defendants in a lawsuit. I was unsurprised by the minuscule level of detail in their lengthy report, and I was also not surprised by the unsubtle abdication of responsibility from the Mail (they aimed to make it all about Meghan versus her father), or the obvious way they referred to Meghan’s lawyer as a “celebrity barrister.” The Mail also said that Meghan is “willing to take the stand,” according to said celebrity barrister.
The only minor-ish thing that I think the Mail could conceivably cling to is the fact that Meghan’s friends were likely authorized by Meghan to speak about her to People Magazine. But even if she eventually concedes that (she probably won’t), I would argue that the Mail truly has NO CASE for publishing any of her letter to Thomas, even if he claims he was merely “reacting” to the People cover story. The Mail – and Toxic Tom – want the argument to be about how he was reacting to this letter Meghan sent him and not that the mere fact that Meghan sent him the letter contradicts many of the interviews he gave for months prior to that, claiming Meghan had zero contact with him, etc. The Mail’s legal strategy seems to also involve the argument that Meghan hasn’t actually spoken to her dad in about two years, so how can *she* speak to his state of mind or blame the tabloids for the estrangement? Like… those some tabloids who were paying Thomas on a regular basis to smear his daughter using scripts written by Piers F–king Morgan. Anyway, it’s all a g–damn mess but I have faith that Meghan will get this sh-t done. You can read the Mail’s coverage here if you’re interested.
Photos courtesy of WENN and Backgrid.