Previously unpublished sections of a 2018 letter that Meghan Markle wrote to her father warned him that “day after day” of “reading the tabloids” had warped his mind and that what started as fascination grew into “paranoia (and then rage) of how you were being portrayed.”
Meghan won a dramatic victory Thursday in her privacy and copyright infringement case against Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the Daily Mail newspapers, when a judge said there was no doubt that her privacy had been invaded by the Mail on Sunday when it published 585 words out of a 1,250-word private letter which she wrote to her father in the aftermath of her wedding.
Judge Warby handed down what is termed a “summary judgment” in Meghan’s favor that essentially brings the most contentious aspects of the trial to a close. He ruled that the disclosures in the newspaper from her letter were “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful” and that it was “fanciful” to suggest the letter was not private.
However, in a bitter irony that will not be lost on the couple, the presiding judge published almost the entire letter that forms the core of the case in his judgment.
Warby, publishing close to 1,100 words from the letter, which are now in the public domain, said that to do so was necessary because it was “directly relevant and necessary in order to show the words selected by the defendant in their context, and to explain my conclusions.”
The previously unpublished sections of the letter, addressed to “Daddy” and delivered by FedEx, show Meghan’s despair and confusion as she wrestled to understand her father’s behavior during what she called the “turbulent and confusing week” before the wedding when he would not pick up the phone despite her calling him, she claimed, more than 20 times.
Meghan described how after learning of his heart attack, she “desperately tried to find out about the medical treatment you would need and where you would be. I begged you to accept help—we sent someone to your home, tried to have them drive you to the hospital, to get the best care and protection for you, and instead of speaking to me to accept this or any help, you stopped answering your phone and chose to only speak to tabloids.”
In one lengthy section never published before, Meghan wrote: “I … urged you day after day to stop reading the tabloids. But you couldn’t—and your fascination grew into paranoia (and then rage) of how you were being portrayed. You know how much anguish tabloid press has caused—lies simply for click bait. So to suffer through this media circus created by you is all the more devastating. You continue to be manipulated by the press, who are likely promising you the world to keep churning out these fictitious stories, yet still ridiculing you. The lies you have been paid to share about me, about our help for you … is staggering and confusing.”
Heartbroken Meghan also defended her husband, saying, “The attacks you’ve made at Harry in the press, who was nothing but patient, kind, and understanding with you, is perhaps the most painful of all. I will truly never understand it.”
Meghan also admonished her father for lying to her and Harry about his collaboration with the media, saying, “My hope is that you can take a moment to reflect on this. To remember our conversation seven days before the wedding when we asked you if the claims of you working with the paparazzi and press were true and told you if we tried to protect you from the story running (something we’ve never attempted to do for anyone—ourselves included) that we wouldn’t be able to use that strength to protect our own children one day. Even knowing that, you said it wasn’t true.”
Meghan issued a victory statement on Thursday immediately after the verdict was delivered in which she accused Associated Newspapers of “illegal and dehumanizing practices.”
Although a secondary claim of copyright infringement was not totally dismissed, with a future hearing set for early March, today’s ruling means Meghan will likely be spared the ordeal of having to face off against her estranged father across a courtroom.
David Hooper, the retired legendary defamation attorney and author of the seminal book on the subject, Reputations Under Fire, told The Daily Beast, “If they had lost, any hope of controlling the press would have been totally gone. So they have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, but the victory is pretty pyrrhic as they have been given a tremendous kicking along the way. They took a hell of a risk, and I imagine they will be extremely cautious before launching into any legal action like this again.”
Following today’s ruling, the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline said they would be considering an appeal.
A spokesman said, “We are very surprised by today’s summary judgment and disappointed at being denied the chance to have all the evidence heard and tested in open court at a full trial. We are carefully considering the judgment's contents and will decide in due course whether to lodge an appeal.”