Watch: Why is Meghan Markle suing the ‘Mail On Sunday’?
The trial between Meghan Markle and the Mail On Sunday will be delayed by nine months as she won her bid to have longer to prepare as she battles the newspaper.
She will also be allowed to apply for the trial to be scrapped in favour of a summary judgement, meaning she would not have to appear in the witness box in court.
But the duchess lost her application to stop a biography about her and her husband Prince Harry being used by the defence in their case refuting her claim.
The Duchess of Sussex’s lawyers were in court on Thursday making three applications, including one to avoid her appearance in the witness box.
She had also asked to be able to appeal the decision in the last hearing, asking that the biography Finding Freedom be removed from the defence’s case, and said she should be given more time to get an appeal and her case ready, moving the trial from 11 January 2021 until a later date.
Mr Justice Warby, addressing the court, said that trial date would now be vacated, and the trial would not make it to court before autumn 2021. However the two sides will return to court in January, as now they will make their arguments for the case to be decided by summary judgment, not trial.
Prior to addressing the court, he heard the application in private, before the hearing was opened to the public, via a remote hearing. The reason for the nine-month delay was kept private.
Mr Justice Warby said the Duchess of Sussex could not appeal the decision about the book, Finding Freedom, agreeing with the previous judge who ruled that the information in the biography was only adding to the existing case put forward by Associated Newspapers Ltd, the publishers of the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline.
Before the court case a source close to the duchess said: “We do not believe that the defence’s case has chance of succeeding, and do not believe there is a compelling reason for trial.”
Meghan is suing ANL for copyright infringement, invasion of privacy and breach of data protection after the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline published extracts of a letter she wrote to her father shortly after her wedding to Harry in 2018.
The headline on the article featuring the letter 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 denies the allegations.
The hearing on Thursday was another round in the ongoing battle between the duchess and the newspaper.
The duchess lost two previous battles, one of which allows the Mail On Sunday to use Finding Freedom, a biography about the royal couple, to be used at trial.
The other saw Meghan have to strike out parts of her case against the newspaper.
But she was successful in keeping the names of the friends who spoke to People magazine about her private, though this may not be a permanent decision.
Meghan’s lawyers said ANL should not be allowed to use Finding Freedom because the only references it makes to the letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, were from the reporting in the defendant’s newspapers.
ANL said the book contained information which could have only come from the claimant, which Prince Harry and Meghan both deny.
The book’s author, Omid Scobie, gave evidence in the last hearing that he did not speak to the royal couple.
However Mr Justice Warby agreed with Judge Francesca Kaye, and also said the cost of an appeal would not be in proportion to the matters.
Instead of a trial in January, the parties involved will return to make their arguments for the case to be decided by a summary judgment rather than a full trial in the autumn.
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