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Meghan Markle loses first round in lawsuit against British tabloid

The Duchess of Sussex, the former actress Meghan Markle, and her husband, Britain's Prince Harry
The former actress Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Britain’s Prince Harry, visit Canada House in London in January.
(Associated Press)

The former actress Meghan Markle, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, lost an early round in a London court Friday when a judge dismissed part of her lawsuit against the publisher of a British newspaper that published excerpts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.

Meghan sued Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement last year over a series of articles in the Mail on Sunday tabloid that reproduced parts of the letter written in August 2018, several months after she married Britain’s Prince Harry.

In a ruling Friday, Judge Mark Warby threw out some of the causes of action argued in her lawsuit, including the claim that the newspaper publisher acted “dishonestly” by quoting only certain passages of her letter.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will no longer cooperate with some British tabloids because of what they call ‘distorted, false or invasive’ stories.

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Warby also struck the claim that Associated Newspapers deliberately “stirred up” a dispute between Meghan and her father, Thomas Markle, and had an agenda to publish intrusive or offensive stories about her.

The judge said the allegations should not be part of the case because he found them irrelevant to establishing whether the publisher was guilty of the illegal acts cited in the duchess’ lawsuit: misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of Britain’s Data Protection Act.

However, Warby said the dismissed claims could be revived at a later stage of the case.

Associated Newspapers denies the allegations.

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Prince Harry just debuted his latest initiative, HeadFIT, which provides online mental health resources to military personnel in the United Kingdom.

Meghan has previously said that if she won the case, she would donate any damages she might be awarded to an anti-bullying charity.

Her lawyers argue that the handwritten letter in question was a “private and intimate” message from a daughter to her father, and accuse the newspaper of targeting Meghan with “distortive, manipulative, and dishonest tactics.”

“The duchess’ rights were violated; the legal boundaries around privacy were crossed,” her lawyers said in a statement Friday.

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They expressed surprise that the judge’s ruling ”suggests that dishonest behavior is not relevant,” but added that “the core elements of this case do not change and will continue to move forward.”

Thomas Markle was scheduled to walk his daughter down the aisle at her and Prince Harry’s wedding ceremony in May 2018 but pulled out at the last minute, citing heart problems.

Prince Harry, who with wife Meghan delivered coronavirus meals in WeHo, jokes that quarantine life with an 11-month-old son is challenging enough.

The elder Markle, a former television lighting director, has given occasional interviews to the media, complaining in December 2018 that he’d been “ghosted” by Meghan after the wedding.

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The interviews and Markle’s relationship with his daughter complicated Meghan’s entry into the royal family.

Meghan and Harry stunned Britain in January with an abrupt announcement that they wanted to step back from royal duties. They have since abandoned plans to use the “Sussex Royal” brand and relocated to Los Angeles.


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