Meghan Markle wins copyright case against Mail On Sunday and MailOnline

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·Royal Correspondent
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Watch: Meghan wins High Court privacy claim

Meghan Markle has won her latest battle against the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline as a judge ruled there would be no "realistic prospect" of a trial not going her way.

Meghan was awarded a summary judgement by Lord Justice Warby on 12 May, a week after a hearing at the High Court in which the Queen offered her a helping hand.

She was fighting the final claim by the two news outlets, published by Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), that she was not the sole author of the letter, and therefore that it was not her copyright alone that had been breached when extracts of it were printed in the paper and online.

But in a ruling on Wednesday a judge said that ANL's case was "reduced to a speculative hypothesis, founded on hearsay from an unknown source, which lacks corroboration and is contradicted by both the key individuals".

Read more: Queen denies holding any copyright over controversial letter Meghan Markle wrote to her father

The Duchess of Sussex launched legal action against the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline after the royal tour in southern Africa in October 2019, over a letter she wrote to her father which the paper and website published. 

She won her claim that publication was a breach of privacy in February, and was awarded a summary judgement by Lord Justice Warby, meaning there was no trial necessary.

However issues over who owned the copyright, which she said was breached, remained unresolved.

ANL said if the duchess was helped in writing the letter by staff members at Kensington Palace then they, and potentially the Crown, would also own some of the copyright.

Watch: Meghan Markle discusses birth of upcoming daughter

Read more: Meghan Markle and her staff 'repeatedly tried to protect her father from press intrusion'

But in a hearing on 5 May, the Queen denied holding any copyright, while Jason Knauf, the staff member who was consulted over the letter, said he did not want to claim any copyright.

Lord Justice Warby said the two comments meant Meghan was "bound to succeed" in any claim about copyright.

The ruling on Wednesday added: "In all these circumstances, I find that there is no longer any realistic prospect that the claimant would fail to prove her full case on the issue of liability at a trial. She would be bound to establish that she was the sole author of, and exclusive owner of copyright in, the Electronic Draft. 

"There is no reason, compelling or otherwise, for this issue to go to trial. I have therefore now directed that an unqualified summary judgment on liability for copyright infringement be entered for the claimant."

WINDSOR,  UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 26:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex  attends the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club on July 26, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
Meghan pictured in July 2018 in Windsor. She has now won another ruling in the ongoing battle with ANL. (Anwar Hussein/WireImage)

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Meghan had requested that all copies of the letter be destroyed, but the judge ruled ANL must "use its best endeavours to deliver up to its own solicitors all hard and soft copies of the offending articles and all complete copies of the Electronic Draft or the Letter".

As ANL is seeking to appeal the judgement, the ruling adds: "The documents are to be held and destroyed at the end of the action, so long as the claimant ultimately succeeds."

The parties are due back again in court in October 2021, the time slot originally set up to hear the trial.

ANL has now been told to pay all of the costs incurred by Meghan during the case.

Meghan has previously requested that ANL gives a statement of profit before she is awarded a sum of compensation for the breach of privacy and copyright, though that is on hold while the appeal is sought.

ANL was ordered in March to print a front-page statement about the ruling, as well as display it on the website, but that is on hold pending the ANL appeal.

In Wednesday’s ruling, Lord Justice Warby said ANL’s application to the Court of Appeal "is still pending".

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