Meghan Markle is accused of ‘collaborating’ with the authors of the book ‘Finding Freedom’ about her life with the Duke of Sussex, the latest hearing of her High Court action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday will hear today.
Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers (ANL) over its publication of a ‘private and confidential’ handwritten letter sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle, 76, in August 2018 months after he suffered a heart attack and was unable to walk her down the aisle.
The duchess, 39, insists that the note contained her ‘deepest and most private thoughts and feelings’ and that its publication was a misuse of her private information and breached the Data Protection Act.
Meghan Markle ‘collaborated’ with the authors of the book ‘Finding Freedom’, the latest hearing of her High Court action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday will hear today
ANL’s lawyers say Meghan colluded with writers Omid Scobie (left) and Carolyn Durand (right)
Meghan has launched a legal action against the British press after her father Thomas (pictured together when she was a teenager) shared a letter she sent him after the royal wedding
At the latest preliminary hearing in London on Monday, ANL sought permission to amend its written defence to Meghan’s claim to argue she ‘co-operated with the authors of the recently published book ‘Finding Freedom’ to put out their version of certain events’.
Meghan denies that she helped with the book
Lawyers for ANL say that her cooperation with the book mirrors the way her five friends briefed People Magazine with her permission about the letter to her father.
Meghan’s lawyers have denied that she co-operated with authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand on the book, which was published in August, and said that any reference to her letter in the book were simply ‘extracts from the letter lifted from the defendant’s own articles’.
In written submissions, Justin Rushbrooke QC said: ‘The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the book.’
He added that neither Meghan nor Harry to spoke to Mr Scobie or Ms Durand, who he said ‘were not given the impression that the claimant wanted the contents of the letter to be reproduced in the book’.
Mr Rushbrooke will reportedly be representing Meghan for the remainder of the case after she dropped his colleague, David Sherborne.
Antony White QC, representing ANL, said in written submissions that Finding Freedom gave ‘every appearance of having been written with their (Meghan and Harry’s) extensive co-operation’.
He argued that ANL should now be allowed to file an amendment to its defence because the book contains descriptions of her ‘relationship and communication with her father,’ with her approval – and that Meghan ’caused or permitted information to be provided directly or indirectly to, and co-operated with, the authors of (Finding Freedom), including by giving or permitting them to be given information about the letter’.
Celebrity barrister David Sherborne (pictured left) is representing Meghan in the High Court hearing last week but the judge Mr Justice Warby (right) did not find in his favour
ANL insists that the duchess also allowed this and other private information to come into the public domain by working with the authors or giving the green light to her friends to share details about her personal life.
A document presented to the court, in which Meghan is referred to as ‘C’ (claimant) maintains: ‘If C provided extensive cooperation to the authors and permitted a detailed account of her private life, relationships, thoughts and feelings to be published, including references to her relationship and communications with her father, it is difficult to see how she can complain that the Letter should not have been published because ‘it contained the Claimant’s deepest and most private thoughts and feelings.’
Thomas Markle with a baby Meghan Markle. A picture shown in the Channel 5 documentary called Thomas Markle: My Story, that aired earlier this year
Thomas Markle showing souvenirs he keeps on mantlepiece of Harry and Meghan from the wedding he was unable to attend. Father and daughter have not spoken since
Referring to the ‘Book,’ it adds: ‘The Book sets out in great detail C’s feelings on a variety of personal matters, relationships and events, and attributes multiple quotes to her about her feelings (36 by D’s reckoning).
‘It also sets out in great detail accounts of events at which it is reasonable to infer that only C and her husband, and/or possibly a third party who would not have spoken to the authors (e.g. the Queen), were present.’
Meghan’s lawyers also claim that ANL’s re-amended defence would also significantly delay the start of the full trial, which has been scheduled for next January.
A document submitted to the court claimed: ‘The Claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the Book-nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the Book.
‘Neither the Claimant nor her husband spoke to the authors ‘or the purposes of the Book.’
Details of a statement by co-author Mr Scobie were also contained in the document submitted by ANL, with lawyers for the media group insisting that they wanted to ‘test’ his evidence in cross-examination.
They claim that in his statement Mr Scobie seems to confirm that people ‘working on behalf of C (Meghan) co-operated with the authors and gave them the names of people close to C who would help and that the authors spoke to such people and received information from them.’
Master Francesca Kaye at the High Court will also rule on costs budgets for the case, which has also left the two sides at loggerheads.
Meghan is claiming costs at an estimated £1.4 million, which is being disputed by ANL as being too high.
Last month Meghan won the most recent tussle in the legal action after Mr Justice Warby ruled in her favour over protecting the identities of five friends who gave an anonymous interview to People magazine.
The senior judge said he had concluded that ‘for the time being at least’ Meghan should be granted an order which protects the identities of the individuals, following an attempt by ANL to name them.