Meghan Markle legal case will not become ‘family battle’ with her father, judge says

Thomas Markle’s “thoughts and feelings” are not central to the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy action, a judge has said, as he reiterated that next year’s trial would not be a “family battle between a daughter and her father”.

The Duchess is suing the Mail on Sunday over the publication of a letter she wrote to her father, claiming it breached her privacy, copyright and data protection rights. 

A ten-day trial scheduled for January was postponed for at least nine months after the Duchess won a delay on confidential grounds.

Mr Justice Warby was told that Mr Markle, 76, is “elderly and sick” and wants his “day in court” sooner rather than later, as he warned he “could die tomorrow”.

But in a judgment outlining his reasons for allowing the delay, the judge said it was “not immediately obvious how Mr Markle’s thoughts and feelings come into play.”

Thomas Markle's evidence is not “an essential component of the defence case,” according to the judge

Credit: Television Stills 

He said Mr Markle’s evidence was not “an essential component of the defence case,” adding that it was a “relatively minor aspect” overall. 

The judge noted that Antony White QC, representing the newspaper, had accepted that any suggestion that the case “involves in substance a family battle between a daughter and her father would be inaccurate.”

He added that Mr Markle had “quite rightly” not been told his daughter’s confidential reason for requesting an adjournment.

The Duchess, 39, sent her estranged father the letter in August 2018, three months after her wedding.

In it, she accused him of breaking her heart "into a million pieces".

The letter’s existence only came to light six months later when a US magazine, briefed by friends of the Duchess, made mention of it.

Sections of the letter were published in the Mail on Sunday and online last February, and it was announced that the duchess would take legal action in October.

The newspaper has alleged that the Kensington Palace press team, including then-communications secretary Jason Knauf, helped compose the letter.

It has also claimed that the letter simply recites “pre-existing facts and admonishment” including the Duchess’s views of Mr Markle and his conduct, and is therefore not her “own intellectual creation”.

The Duchess’s response has not yet been made available.

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