I was debating whether or not to even try to summarize what’s happening with the Duchess of Sussex’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday. I debated with myself because I thought there was a chance we would get a ruling today, but it looks like it’s going to be a two-day hearing. The hearing is for Meghan’s request for a summary judgment, meaning the judge on the case – Justice Warby – has to make a decision about whether or not the Mail has sufficiently proven they have a good defense for printing Meghan’s handwritten letter to her father. The Mail and their legal team have spent the past year throwing sh-t against the wall to see what sticks, and it’s been death by a thousand paper cuts for Team Meghan. Here’s what happening with the two-day summary judgment hearing, which has started today:
Lawyers for Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, asked a British judge on Tuesday to settle her lawsuit against a newspaper before it goes to trial by ruling that its publication of a “deeply personal” letter to her estranged father was “a plain and a serious breach of her rights of privacy.”
The duchess, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that published portions of a handwritten letter to her father, Thomas Markle, after her marriage to Britain’s Prince Harry in 2018. Associated Newspapers is contesting the claim, and the full trial is due to be held in the fall at the High Court in London.
The duchess is seeking a summary judgment that would find in her favor and dismiss the newspaper’s defense case. Her lawyer Justin Rushbrooke argued that the publisher had “no real prospect” of winning the case.
“At its heart it’s a very straightforward case about the unlawful publication of a private letter,” he said Tuesday at the start of a two-day hearing, held remotely because of coronavirus restrictions. Rushbrooke said Meghan had every expectation that “a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father” would remain private.
Lawyers for the publisher argue that Meghan made personal information public by cooperating with the authors of a behind-the-scenes book about her and Harry, “Finding Freedom.” She denies collaborating with the authors — though she acknowledges allowing someone close to her to speak to them — and the book is expected to feature prominently in the trial.
I agree that this is a pretty open-and-shut case, but clearly, my years at Dick Wolf University did not prepare me for the Mail’s ability to play a giant game of Whataboutism. What about Meghan’s friends going to People? What about Finding Freedom? What about this, what about that. No, the case was always pretty simple and the Mail just decided to launch such a huge fight about it as a way of continuing to harass and bully Meghan. But I have hope that Justice Warby might do something here, especially since it’s becoming clear that the Windsors want this lawsuit to go away before any of THEIR sh-t gets revealed.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.