MEGHAN Markle used her public profile and PR team to promote herself, the High Court heard today.
The Duchess of Sussex, 38, is accused of “publicising and promoting the merits of her own position” ever since she launched a legal privacy battle last year.
Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple.
Meghan Markle used resources to promote herself, a High Court heard today[/caption]
Meghan’s estranged father Thomas Markle Jr did not attend his daughter’s wedding[/caption]
The Duchess of Sussex is trying to stop the names of her five pals who gave an interview to People from being made public[/caption]
It comes just hours after it emerged she allegedly colluded with paparazzi to set up staged snaps to promote herself in London in 2015.
Meghan is locked in a major legal battle with Associated Newspapers after the Mail on Sunday published a letter from her dad which she claims breaches her privacy.
At the High Court today, Meghan’s lawyers tried to stop the identification of five pals who gave an explosive interview to People magazine in which news of the letter first slipped out.
The Duchess claims revealing their names – known only as Friends A to E – breaches their privacy and would only “benefit” the newspaper.
But Associated Newspapers today hit back saying the Mail has “not sought to spin coverage in its own favour” – unlike Meghan.
Their lawyer said: “In very sharp contrast, [Meghan] has, from the very beginning of the action used her public profile and her PR team to publicise and promote the merits of her own position.”
The Duchess of Sussex, who is not in court today, has always denied giving her pals permission to defend her to People magazine over bullying she allegedly suffered while a royal.
In the article, published last February, the anonymous friends said they wanted to “stand up against the global bullying we are seeing and speak the truth about our friend.”
The interview also sensationally revealed that Meghan, 38, had written a letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle, three months after he was unable to walk her down the aisle following a heart attack.
The letter was then published by the Mail on Sunday – with Meghan now suing its publisher Associated Newspapers for breaching her privacy.
The newspaper wholly denies the allegations, saying Mr Markle wanted its contents published to correct false impressions her friends had given about the contents in their magazine interviews.
‘PLEASED WITH HER PALS’
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers argued Meghan “commended” the “flattering” interview.
New court documents today reveal Meghan “does not complain” about what her pals said and was apparently “pleased with her friends’ intervention”.
But court docs claim she did not like a reference to the letter she wrote to her estranged father.
Meghan is trying to stop the names of the five pals – once close friends and confidantes – being published, claiming it would breach their privacy.
But publisher Associated Newspapers say the identities should be made public and argue the Duchess cannot fight for their privacy since she was the one who “freely” named them in court docs.
Lawyers for the newspaper said today: “They gave flattering material to People about [Meghan].
“[She] does not complain about what they did – in fact she appears to commend it.
“The information they disclosed to People was information about the claimant, but is not said by her to be private or information that she seeks to protect.”
Meghan claimed this was an “unfortunately inaccurate” portrayal of her letter, claiming she didn’t know her friends would go public.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the Duchess of Sussex, argued today the friends should be “owed” the same level of protection and anonymity any journalistic sources receive.
Meghan’s lawyer said the five pals gave the interviews anonymously and therefore should be given the same protection as any journalistic sources.
The Contempt of Court Act allows publishers and journalists to refuse to reveal their sources.
HIGH COURT BATTLE
But the newspaper argued today that publishing the pals’ names would not result in a “breach of trust” because the Duchess was happy with the article.
They added: “Further, it is not suggested by anyone, nor could it be, that the disclosure of sources in this case will lead to any sanctions or reprisals against any friend, as is sometimes the case where sources insist upon confidentiality out of necessity.”
Arguing for them to be kept anonymous, Meghan’s barrister told the court today that ‘Friend B’ was the ringleader who “orchestrated” the article.
In a witness statement, Friend C says she would suffer “intrusion into family life” if she was identified, the court was told.
He said: “We say at least four of the five sources have no real role at all on the issue raised by the defendant’s defence regarding the interview with People magazine in the US.
“One of those, and only one on the claimant’s case, made a passing reference to the letter written by the claimant to her father, which lies at the heart of this claim for invasion of privacy.”
He added: “These were confidential sources who gave the interviews on condition of anonymity.”
There is a high public interest in protecting sources, he said.
Mr Rushbrooke also hit back at Associated Newspapers’ argument that Meghan had “compromised” her friends’ right to privacy “by putting their names into a public court document”.
He said: “We say, on any analysis, that is actually a grotesque perversion of what’s actually happened.”
These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial.
People magazine previously described the Duchess’s five pals as “Meghan’s inner circle – a longtime friend, a former co-star, a friend from LA, a one-time colleague and a close confidante’”.
Meghan has said she did not give her friends permission to speak out, but has hit out at the prospect of them being named if they are to give evidence.
Earlier this month a witness statement as part of the application the Duchess said: “These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial.
“It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case – that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.
“Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy.
“Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.”
Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers over five articles, two in the Mail on Sunday and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to Mr Markle, 75, in August 2018.
The Duchess is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.
Associated Newspapers strongly denies the allegations, especially the claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers have argued that her five pals, brought the letter into the public domain when it was referred to for the first time in the People magazine interview.
Only identified as Friend A, the person who told People magazine about the letter said: “She’s like ‘Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship’.”
The publisher’s defence document said: “Information in the People interview about the claimant’s relationship and dealings with her father, including the existence of the letter and a description of its contents and the claimant’s father’s letter in response, could only have come (directly or indirectly) from the claimant.”
MOST READ IN MEGHAN MARKLE NEWS
It added that Mr Markle had revealed the letter to correct the “false” impression Meghan’s friends had given about his actions in their interview.
The Duchess’s legal team have claimed in court documents that she did not know the People Magazine article was due to appear, would not have agreed to the letter’s contents being revealed, and after its publication she phoned Friend A to express “her distress”.
Meghan and her husband Prince Harry are now living in the US after quitting the Royal Family earlier this year.