Meghan penned a letter to Mr Markle in August 2018, extracts of which were published by the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline in February 2019. The Duchess of Sussex is now suing the publisher of these news outlets – Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL).
The parts involved in the court case have already met during a series of legal skirmishes.
Today and tomorrow, they are to discuss Meghan’s lawyers’ application for a summary judgement.
If Mr Justice Warby ruled in favour of the summary judgement, the case would be resolved without a trial.
During this morning’s remote High Court hearing, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representative of Meghan, spoke about the “sensitive nature” of the letter received by Mr Markle from his daughter in the late summer of 2018.
He told the judge “one cannot really overstate the sensitive nature of the contents of the letter”.
He added: “It is a letter that was… not written in anger but written in sorrow, by a daughter who clearly felt she had reached a breaking point in her relationship with her father.”
In this letter addressed to Mr Markle, Meghan’s lawyer added, the Duchess of Sussex wrote the word “painful” five times.
Meghan, he continued, “never consented” to the publication of the letter and was not told in advance extracts of it were going to be seen by the public.
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Mr Rushbrooke added: “The claimant herself had done nothing to bring the contents of the letter into the public domain at the time of publication.”
The lawyer then referred to a previous statement by Meghan in which she said she had shared a draft of her letter with Prince Harry and the then Kensington Palace communications secretary Jason Knauf.
He said Meghan “only discussed its contents with a very limited number of people who were either friends or family” or people with whom she had a “trusted relationship, such as the communications team or her solicitor”.
The letter, Mr Rushbrooke also said during the hearing, “was sent by FedEx”.
He added the letter was sent via “the claimant’s accountant I think it was, who was known to her father”, adding: “The purpose of this – and, we say, what else could it have been for – was to minimise the risk of interception.”
Arguing in favour of the summary judgement, Mr Rushbrooke claimed Associated Newspapers “has no viable defence”.
He added: “At its heart, it is a very straightforward case about the unlawful publication of a private letter.
“We say that, quite simply, the publication to millions of readers of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline of extensive extracts from a private and, indeed, deeply personal letter written by the claimant to her father that took place on February 10, 2019, was a plain and serious breach of her right to privacy.”
However, the representatives of ANL argue this case is “wholly unsuitable for summary judgment”.
In documents submitted ahead of today’s hearing, they said: “There is uncertainty as to a number of significant factual matters which can, and should, be investigated at trial when the Court will have the full picture in terms of disclosure and evidence, both from C[laimant] and from others involved.
“This is particularly so when Claimant’s case in respect of certain important factual issues has shifted, inter alia in relation to the circumstances in which the Letter was written and the extent to which she had disclosed information about the Letter with a view to publication.
“There are now on the record a number of inconsistent statements made by her that she will need to explain.”
If Meghan’s lawyers won’t win their application for the summary judgement, the trial is expected to take place this autumn.
Meghan is seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.
Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations, particularly the Duchess’s claim the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will contest the case.