The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not collaborate with the authors of a recent book about them, Meghan’s lawyers told the high court in the latest hearing of her legal action against the Mail on Sunday.
Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, over articles that reproduced part of her handwritten letter to her estranged father, 76-year-old Thomas Markle, in August 2018.
She claims publication of sections of the letter in the newspaper and online in February last year was a misuse of her private information, infringed her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.
At the latest hearing on Monday, ANL sought permission to amend its written defence to argue that Meghan “cooperated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to put out their version of certain events”.
In written submissions, the duchess’s lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke QC, said: “The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the book.”
He said neither Harry nor Meghan had spoken to the authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who Rushbrooke added “were not given the impression that the claimant wanted the contents of the letter to be reproduced in the book”.
Antony White QC, for ANL, said in written submissions that Finding Freedom gave “every appearance of having been written with their [the couple’s] extensive cooperation”.
He said ANL wished to amend its defence to allege Meghan “caused or permitted information to be provided directly or indirectly to, and cooperated with, the authors of [Finding Freedom], including by giving or permitting them to be given information about the letter”.
Court documents reveal the overall total costs of the legal action for Meghan to be £1,798,043.57, and £1,230,425 for ANL.
In an earlier preliminary hearing last month the judge, Mr Justice Warby, ruled in the duchess’s favour by allowing the identities of five friends who spoke anonymously to People magazine in the US to remain protected “for the time being at least”. The five have been named in confidential court documents.
Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on Mail Online. The headline on the first MoS article read: “Revealed: the letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”
ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.
The trial is due to begin in January and estimated to last between seven and 10 days.
Monday’s hearing before Judge Francesca Kaye will also deal with applications for further disclosure and directions towards a trial.