Meghan Granted £450k Payment After Legal Victory Against Mail

Meghan Granted £450k Payment After Legal Victory Against Mail

By Sheila Mckenzie-

The Duchess of Sussex has been granted an interim £450,000 down payment towards her £1.5m legal costs in her privacy case against the Mail on Sunday.

The large payment is for her victory last month against Associated Newspapers Ltd, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, over extracts published from a private handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

At a remote hearing on Tuesday, Lord Justice Warby refused permission for Associated Newspapers (ANL) – publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline – to appeal the ruling.

Warby ruled that any “financial remedies’’ to be granted to Meghan for misuse of private information would be considered at a further hearing in late April or early May.

The judge said he saw no grounds to overturn his judgment but the publisher had the right to take its application to the Court of Appeal.

Meghan  has  demanded a front-page apology, and  is also seeking a high court order for the newspaper to hand over any copies it has made of the letter, and destroy any copies of it or notes made about it.

Meghan, 39, sued ANL over five articles published in February 2019, in relation to breach of privacy and copyright infringes. She was granted summary judgment in relation to her privacy claim, and part of her copyright claim.

Warby ruled  last month that the publication of Meghan’s letter to her father was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful”, and  was, in short, a personal and private letter” and these were “inherently private and personal matters”.

Ian Mill QC argued that ANL had “failed to deliver up copies it has of the letter such that the threat to infringe and further misuse her private information remains real and, inexplicably, the defendant has still not removed the infringing articles from Mail Online”.

He said this was despite the judge’s ruling that found publication of the articles had infringed Meghan’s rights. “Accordingly, at the time of writing, the defendant defiantly continues to do the very acts which the court has held are unlawful.”

Nominal Award

Meghan expressed a willingness to restrict damages to a “nominal award” – a token sum – for misuse of private information to save time and cost debating the issue, the court heard.

She had asked for ANL to pay £750,000 within two weeks as “an interim payment on account” to cover legal costs of bringing the claim.

Antony White QC representing ANL, said his client planned to appeal against the summary judgment ruling, arguing that it “would have a real prospect of success”.

The publisher said the declaration Meghan wanted it to publish was not accurate, and wrongly stated she had won her whole claim rather than the fact that summary judgment had been given on parts of her claim, with other parts still to be determined.

Any order requiring ANL to hand over any copies of Meghan’s letter to her father should be put on hold until any appeal against last month’s judgment could be determined, added White.

Warby ruled that any “financial remedies’’ to be granted to Meghan for misuse of private information would be considered at a further hearing in late April or early May.

Last month, Warby ruled that the publication of Meghan’s letter to her father was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful”. He said: “It was, in short, a personal and private letter” and these were “inherently private and personal matters”.

Private Information

The duchess claimed the five articles published in February 2019 involved a misuse of her private information, breached her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.

The judge has said the issue of whether Meghan was “the sole author” – or whether Jason Knauf, formerly communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was a “co-author” – should be determined at a trial, despite being one “of minor significance in the overall context”.

 

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