The Duchess of Sussex’s lawyers hit out at “offensive” and “inappropriate” allegations from her half-sister as they sought to end her US lawsuit.
Meghan is being sued by Samantha Markle over claims she subjected her to “humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale” in the 2021 set-piece interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Samantha is claiming $75,000 in damages, alleging Meghan had lied about her “rags to royalty” upbringing and suggesting the Duchess falsely stated that she “grew up as an only child”.
Countering the lawsuit in a Florida court yesterday, Meghan’s lawyer Michael Kump urged Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell to throw out the defamation claim, suggesting the “perceived slights” from the Oprah interview were not proper matters to be brought before a court. He called the case “inappropriate” and said it had been put forward in a way that was “quite frankly offensive to my client”.
“Not every perceived slight ought to be litigated and that’s true here. Plaintiff is taking issue with Meghan’s own impressions of her own childhood growing up but that’s not a proper subject matter for a court of law,” he said.
“The right to voice opinions and even criticise are guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Samantha Markle, who shares father Thomas with the Duchess, has complained about parts of the book Finding Freedom as part of her case.
Her lawyer, Peter Ticktin, suggested the book had been “used by the Duchess to affirm this false narrative that she supposedly lived this rags-to-riches thing”.
He claimed Samantha had to contend with death threats and a stalker after the book’s publication, accusing Meghan of being “caught with (a) lie”.
However, Mr Kump urged the judge to throw out parts of the defamation claim based on the book, as the Duchess was not the author or publisher.
In the Oprah interview, Meghan said Samantha had changed her name when she started dating Prince Harry, adding: “So I think that says enough.” “The fair reading of that is that Meghan is saying to the interviewer, we’ve talked enough in this very short period about Samantha Markle,” said Mr Kump, countering a suggestion Meghan had dubbed her half-sister a “disgusting opportunist”.
During the hearing, the Mail reported that Mr Ticktin admitted they did not have “the strongest case in the world”.
The judge reserved judgment, but said she was “struggling” to see how the Duchess could be accused of publishing the allegedly defamatory statements.