Meghan Markle settles privacy claim over images of duchess on walk with son Archie

Tristan Kirk
·3-min read
Harry and Meghan in London in July 2018 (PA)
Harry and Meghan in London in July 2018 (PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have settle a privacy claim with a celebrity picture agency over images of Meghan on a walk with son Archie and her dogs.

The couple sued Splash News on behalf of their young son Archie after pictures were taken in January as Meghan strolled in the woods in Canada with the eight-month-old strapped to her chest.

At the High Court this morning, the duchess’ lawyer Jenny Afia said the case has been settled due to the UK arm of the agency going into administration during the pandemic.

“In light of the administration, the parties have agreed to settle the claim against Splash”, she told Mr Justice Nicklin.

“The administrators have undertaken that should the entity come out of administration, Splash wouldn’t take any photographs of the duke and duchess or their son in the future.”

The disputed images, which were syndicated to British newspapers, were taken on Vancouver Island as Meghan took a walk near to the £10 million mansion where she was living with Prince Harry.

“They were papped in this location”, said the duchess’ lawyer Jonathan Barnes told an earlier hearing.

The court heard the duchess says she did not consent to the pictures being taken, and the couple believe the same photographer “cased” their home the day before to identify the entrances and take pictures over the fence.

They sued for breach of privacy and data protection infringement, and Ms Afia said the duke and duchess’ case was that the images - capturing a “private family outing in a remote rural setting” – had no public interest.

A representative for Splash agreed to the terms of the settlement at today’s hearing, conducted virtually.

Meghan is locked in another High Court battle with Associated Newspapers, the publisher of MailOnline and the Mail on Sunday, over the publication of a letter to her father, Thomas Markle. This case is due to be tried next year.

And Prince Harry has brought a legal claim against the publisher over a story claiming he has fallen out of touch with the Royal Marines.

A spokesman for Schillings, Harry and Meghan’s legal representation, said: “As explained in today’s hearing, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have successfully settled a legal claim brought at the beginning of this year against the paparazzi agency Splash UK.

“This settlement is a clear signal that unlawful, invasive and intrusive paparazzi behaviour will not be tolerated and that the couple takes these matters seriously – just as any family would.

“A simultaneous and similar claim against Splash US, a sister company to Splash UK, continues to move forward in the British court system.”

Following the hearing, a Splash spokesperson said: “Splash confirms that one of its former companies, now in the hands of the administrators, has agreed that, should it begin trading again, it will not take unauthorised photographs of the family of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It was the administrators who made this statement in court and not Splash.

"This agreement has no bearing on Splash as a whole, which continues to operate as normal. As long as it is legal to do so, and that the privacy rights of children are protected, Splash will, of course, continue to take photographs of public figures in public. “