Meghan Markle loses court battle to block claims she ‘co-operated with authors of Finding Freedom’
MEGHAN Markle today lost a court battle to block claims she allegedly co-operated with the authors of Finding Freedom.
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, is accused of feeding personal information to the writers of the biography to “set out her own version of events in a way that is favourable to her”.
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The former actress is currently locked in a privacy battle with the publishers of the Mail on Sunday, suing the newspaper for printing extracts of a letter she sent to her dad Thomas, 76, saying it breached her privacy.
However, Associated Newspapers last week claimed Prince Harry's wife had herself leaked details of the letter to the media through friends.
The publisher has argued that Meghan was "pleased" when five friends spoke up to defend her in an interview with People Magazine, which mentioned the letter.
And last week the publisher sought permission to amend its defence to argue Meghan "co-operated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to put out their version of certain events".
Anthony White QC, for the MoS, said: “[Meghan] has allowed information about her private and family life, including her relationship and communications with her father and the letter, and the private and family lives of others, to enter the public domain by means of the book.”
Judge Francesca Kaye today ruled The Mail on Sunday can rely on Finding Freedom in its defence in the High Court.
She said: "[Meghan] says she had nothing to do with the information in the public domain, either directly or indirectly. She says 'it's nothing to do with me', which is a simple case.
"If it's a house of cards, then it will quickly fall down at trial. But I'm satisfied the amendments are arguable."
She added that Meghan "knows the case she has to meet" and that "there is no suggestion that she is in fact unable to do so".
The claims could be very damaging to her case against the Mail on Sunday as the judge today allowed them to be used against her in court.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, asked for permission to appeal against the ruling allowing the amendments to the Mail on Sunday's defence.
The barrister said the "inherent improbability" of Meghan having co-operated with the authors of the biography 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.
Judge Francesca Kaye refused permission to appeal against her ruling, but Meghan's lawyers could still pursue an appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Meghan’s lawyers have fiercely denied she had collaborated with the authors – even calling the stories in Finding Freedom “extremely anodyne, the product of creative licence and/or inaccurate” in a bid to distance her from it.
The Mail on Sunday claims Meghan knew it was "likely" her father, Thomas, would publicly share the letter, and had given a copy to the Kensington Palace communications.
Finding Freedom author Omid Scobie claimed in his witness statement it was "false" to suggest Harry or Meghan collaborated on Finding Freedom, which made bombshell claims about the couple and Megxit from the royal family.
In his statement, he said: “[Meghan and Harry] did not authorise the book and have never been interviewed for it.
"The book was always prepared on the understanding that it was to be independent and unauthorised.”
The judge said Mr Scobie's statement "does not amount to a knockout blow", adding: "It's not what he says but what he does not say which may be instructive at trial."
Meghan, who is currently living in the US with Prince Harry and their one-year-old son Archie, is suing ANL over five articles in total, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019, and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.
ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess's claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.
A ten-day trial is expected to provisionally begin on January 11.
Meghan and Harry moved to the US earlier this year after quitting the royal family.
They most recently signed a deal with Netflix rumoured to be worth £112million and bought a home in Santa Barbara.
The couple also paid back the £2.4million spent on refurbishing their home in the UK, Frogmore Cottage.
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