Yesterday, we learned that the Duchess of Sussex’s London-based attorneys were requesting a delay in the trial against the Mail. The trial has been set for January, and there were big expectations that Meghan and Harry would travel to England just after Christmas just for the trial. But we’re still in a pandemic, and the court case has gotten absolutely bonkers, so Meghan was apparently asking for more time. It was given to her. But it’s surprisingly complicated, because Meghan is also asking for a summary judgment, which could halt proceedings without a trial (there has been no ruling on the summary judgment as of yet).
The Duchess of Sussex is in the midst of a legal battle with the Mail on Sunday’s parent company, Associated Newspapers, whom she is suing for breach of privacy over the publication of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, 75. Now, after Meghan submitted an application asking for the case to be adjourned, she has won her bid for the trial to be delayed for almost a year.
The Sun reports that the bid proved successful today after the Duchess cited a ‘confidential matter’. The 10-day trial was set to take place in London on 11 January with the Duchess due to give evidence against her father. A case management hearing was set to take place today, Thursday 29 October, but the trial judge, Mr Justice Warby, will instead now hear the application for adjournment (in a remote hearing) that is expected to last half a day. Another aspect of Meghan’s legal case, the costs and case management, was due to be discussed today by Judge Francesca Kaye, in what would have been one in the series of preliminary hearings.
The request comes after Associated Newspapers’ lawyers asked and won the right to include the Finding Freedom biography in their client’s defence. The Duchess of Sussex is accused of feeding personal information to the writers of the biography to ‘set out her own version of events in a way that is favourable to her’. Associated Newspapers claimed Prince Harry’s wife had leaked details of the letter to the media through friends and last month sought permission to amend its defence to argue Meghan’s cooperation.
As reported in the Express, the Duchess’ legal team have now applied for a ‘summary judgement’. Such a move would make the whole trial in January unnecessary and the Duchess would no longer be required to give evidence at a trial in person. Chris Ship, ITV News’s royal editor explained the case for a ‘summary judgement’ on Twitter: ‘They say it’s because they are so confident of their case in law and will argue tomorrow that the case should be determined on a “summary basis”’. A summary basis would involve the judge making a ruling based on the cases submitted on paper by the two sides, without the need for witnesses or further evidence. The Times reported that legal experts had speculated that the duchess might be seeking to avoid getting into the witness box, where she would be subjected to cross-examination; there’s also a possibility that her father could be called as a witness if there is a full trial.
Judge Mark Warby has tentatively set the new trial date for some time in the “autumn” of 2021. Which, from what I gather, will probably be moot because Meghan is looking to get this sh-t shut down very soon with the summary judgment. As for the Finding Freedom aspect… again, the Mail is just trying to make the situation incredibly complicated when it was always very simple: the Mail had no right to publish any part of Meghan’s letter to her father, and they certainly didn’t have the right to grossly misrepresent the letter the way they did. The Mail arguing that Meghan and her friends might have said this or that to People Magazine or Omid Scobie is neither here nor there.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.