The Mail lost their appeal, as we discussed. It’s brilliant that two courts have now said, in no uncertain terms, that the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy and copyright were violated by the Mail when the newspaper published her handwritten letter to her father. The Mail has now spent a lot of money throwing everything they had against Meghan. To be fair, the Mail has probably made a lot of money from their daily campaign of hate in print and online. Meghan sells. Smearing Meghan has sold a lot of papers. So, what’s next? The Mail can apparently take this to the Supreme Court, but considering the narrow scope of the lawsuit, the result will likely be the same. Byline Investigates had some very good analysis of what happens next. Some highlights:
A straight-forward & unanimous victory: The Mail and its allies will protest, but the Duchess of Sussex’s victory in the Court of Appeal is a straightforward one, upholding well-established principles in English privacy and copyright law. A crushing judgment in her favour in the High Court has now been followed by an equally crushing unanimous finding from three of the country’s most senior judges.
A cut-and-dry case: In other words, the newspaper broke two laws in early 2019 when it published large parts of a personal letter the Duchess wrote to her father, and for all the legal fuss it has made since then the newspaper has offered no meaningful legal defence. The famous ‘new evidence’ submitted by Associated, and the Duchess’s equally famous apology for revising her position, made no difference to the outcome.
Another appeal? Associated, which is backed by the wealth of its billionaire proprietor Lord Rothermere, tends to exhaust every possibility in court cases and so will probably now seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, but after such a resounding dismissal its chances must be slender.
Lord Rothermere better have Meg’s money: The matter now returns to the High Court, where Lord Justice Warby has yet to conclude the process of determining how the Duchess is to be compensated for the harm done to her. She is not seeking damages but an ‘account of profits’: in other words she wants to be compensated on the basis of how much money the Mail on Sunday made from its law-breaking. Also to be resolved is the matter of costs. Associated has already made an interim payment of £450,000 to the Duchess to reimburse her costs in bringing the action. The final sum, now including the costs of fighting the appeal, is likely to be considerably higher.
The apology: Another consequence of today’s judgment is that the Mail on Sunday should now have to publish prominently on its front page and on page three statements acknowledging that it infringed the Duchess’s copyright. This is a rare if not unprecedented measure in the UK media, where corrections, even to front-page stories, are invariably published without prominence on inside pages.
My guess – and I’m sure we’ll hear about it soon enough – is that the Mail will appeal to the Supreme Court. It’s not because they think they have a solid legal defense, because it’s clear that they do not. They’ll appeal because those old men simply cannot abide apologizing to Meghan, and because they know they can continue to draw this out and sell more papers. Which brings me to the fact that Meghan is “not seeking damages but an ‘account of profits’: in other words she wants to be compensated on the basis of how much money the Mail on Sunday made from its law-breaking.” I hope Meghan’s lawyers argue that an “account of profits” should be made from the Mail’s coverage of her lawsuit as well. Whew.
Kind of hope everyone makes the Cambridges and Jason Knauf’s involvement into a bigger deal too. This wasn’t just a victory for Meghan: it was a complete failure for the Kensington Palace Clowns.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN.