The Duchess of Sussex has lost the latest ruling on her High Court action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday over its decision to print a “private and confidential” letter sent to her estranged father.
Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers (ANL) and claims the publication last year of parts of the handwritten letter to Thomas Markle was a misuse of her private information and breached the Data Protection Act.
In this latest ruling, ANL had asked to amend its written defence to argue the duchess had “co-operated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to put out their version of certain events”.
Antony White QC, representing the publisher, said the book which was published in August had given “every appearance of having been written with their [Meghan and Harry’s] extensive co-operation”.
He said he wished to amend the defence to allege Meghan had either directly or indirectly given the book’s authors information about the letter.
Meghan’s lawyers denied she had “collaborated” with the authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, and said any references to the letter were simply extracts lifted from articles in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said: “The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the book.”
Mr Rushbrooke requested permission to appeal against the ruling, but was denied by Judge Francesca Kaye.
However, Ms Kay said the duchess’ lawyers could still pursue an appeal though the Court of Appeal.
The lawyer said the “inherent improbability” of the duchess cooperating with the book’s authors could be demonstrated by “simply comparing what the defendant’s own articles said with what the book said about the letter” to her estranged father.
The latest ruling means the Mail on Sunday will be able to rely on using the book in its defence.
The duchess won the last tussle in the legal action after a judge decided to protect the identities of five of her friends who gave an anonymous interview to People magazine.
In the article, one of her friends said: “She’s like ‘Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship’.”
Meghan said her friends had given the interview without her knowledge but argued they should be kept anonymous as they had a “basic right to privacy”.
She is suing ANL over five articles – two in the Mail on Sunday and three on MailOnline.