Meghan Markle Responds to New Claims in Private Letter Lawsuit Appeal
By Mona Khalifeh
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Meghan Markle is responding to claims from the British newspaper Mail on Sunday that she wrote the private letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in a way that it would "pull at the heartstrings" if leaked to the public.
The publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline website, Associated Newspapers, have presented communications between Markle and her then-communications secretary, Jason Knauf -- who now works for Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal Foundation -- which they say dispute her claims that she did not intend for the letter to be read by anyone but her father.
Andrew Caldecott, a lawyer for Associated Newspapers, told the Court of Appeal in London on Wednesday, that the letter was allegedly "crafted with readership by the public in mind," adding that Markle was "happy for the public to read it if Mr. Markle were to leak it."
He quoted from a witness statement, obtained by ET, in which Knauf claimed that the duchess "asked me to review the text of the letter, saying 'obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked.'"
Knauf also alleged that Markle even asked whether she should address her father in the letter as "Daddy," adding that "in the unfortunate event that it leaked, it would pull at the heartstrings."
In her own written evidence statement, Markle said she had not believed that her father "would sell or leak the letter, primarily because it would not put him in a good light."
"To be clear, I did not want any of it to be published, and wanted to ensure that the risk of it being manipulated or misleadingly edited was minimized, were it to be exploited," she said.
Associated Newspapers is trying to appeal a court decision that cited that the Duchess of Sussex's privacy was breached when they published portions of the handwritten letter she wrote to her father, after she married Prince Harry in 2018. In February, a High Court judge ruled that the publication of the letter was unlawful.
Markle addressed the appeal during the New York Times DealBook Online Summit on Tuesday, telling Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, that in this case or any other matters of privacy, "you must stand up for what's right."
"In terms of this, the appeal, I won the case and this issue, frankly, has been going on," she explained. "When I had no children at all. Melody, I now have two children as you know, so it's an arduous process. But again, it's just me standing up for what's right, which I think is important across the board, be it in this case or in the other things we've been talking about today at a certain point, no matter how difficult it is, you know the difference between right and wrong. You must stand up for what's right and that's what I'm doing."
She later added, "Even before I had any sort of privilege in my life -- when my life and my lifestyle were very, very different -- I always stood up for what was right."
In a series of statements provided by a spokesperson for the duchess, Markle spoke on the Associated Newspapers bringing up Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie’s book on Markle and Prince Harry, Finding Freedom, which they say is not related to this lawsuit.
"As confirmed by Mr. Scobie in a signed witness statement before the Court, The Duchess did not cooperate with the authors of the book.
The Duchess was so intent on not cooperating with the book, she approached Mr. Knauf about a potential proactive strategy to ask family and friends not to participate," the spokesperson stated, calling The Mail's attempt to connect their appeal with the book, which they said has nothing to do with the case, "nothing more than a ploy."