A preliminary hearing opened Friday at Britain’s High Court in the Duchess of Sussex’s legal action against a tabloid that published what she calls a “private and confidential” letter she wrote her father.
Married to Britain’s Prince Harry, the former actress Meghan Markle is suing the Mail on Sunday and its parent company, Associated Newspapers, for publishing a letter she wrote to Thomas Markle. The lawsuit accuses the newspaper of copyright infringement, misuse of private information and violating Britain’s data protection law.
Associated Newspapers denies the allegations, particularly the claim that the letter was presented in a way that changed its meaning. The company has said it intends to vigorously fight the case.
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers will ask the court to strike out parts of Meghan’s lawsuit ahead of a full trial of the issues, arguing that allegations of “dishonesty and malicious intent” should not form part of her case.
As the hearing opened via video conferencing, Anthony White, a lawyer representing the publisher, told the judge that lawyers for Meghan had made “further assertions of improper, deliberate conduct,” and accused the publisher of “harassing, humiliating, manipulating and exploiting” Thomas Markle.
Harry and Meghan were expected to listen in to the part of the hearing conducted by her lawyers.
Thomas Markle’s strained relationship with his daughter complicated Meghan’s entry into the British royal family.
He had been due to walk Meghan down the aisle at her May 2018 wedding at Windsor Castle but pulled out at the last minute, citing heart problems. The former television lighting director has given occasional interviews to the media, complaining in December 2018 that he’d been “ghosted” by his daughter after the wedding.
The letter was written three months after the royal wedding.
Analysts have compared the legal case to the late Princess Diana’s lawsuit over photographs showing her exercising on gym equipment. The case was settled before it was to be heard.