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Meghan Markle seeking £1.5 million in legal costs after High Court privacy victory

Tristan Kirk
·3-min read
<p>Meghan sued for breach of privacy and breach of copyright</p> (Getty Images)

Meghan sued for breach of privacy and breach of copyright

(Getty Images)

The Duchess of Sussex is demanding £1.5 million in legal costs as well as a front page apology from the publishers of the Mail on Sunday after her dramatic High Court privacy victory.

Meghan, 39, emerged victorious last month from a legal battle with media group Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) over the publication of extracts of a handwritten five-page note she sent to her father, Thomas Markle.

She sued for breach of privacy and breach of copyright, and was issued with summary judgment when Lord Justice Warby concluded ANL had no viable defence.

At a hearing on Tuesday, the judge ordered the newspaper group to make an interim payment of £450,000 to Meghan over legal costs, with the possibility of more being ordered in the future.

Her lawyers told the court she has run up a legal bill of £1,539,097.79 in the privacy battle and is seeking to recover it all.

The newspaper publisher is planning to mount an appeal against its defeat in the long-running legal battle.

In a series of rulings this afternoon, the judge refused to meet Meghan’s demand for ANL to hand over the copies of the letter than it has.

The judge also refused ANL’s application for permission to appeal, saying he had “stepped back” to assess criticism of his judgment but “doesn’t consider any grounds (of appeal) have a realistic prospect of success”.

The newspaper group immediately signalled it would take its case to the Court of Appeal.

The Duchess told the judge she is prepared to accept nominal damages over the privacy claim as long as ANL pays an “account of profits” for the copyright breach.

“What we are trying to do is cut through this in a way which is proportionate”, said her barrister Ian Mill QC.

“We are not trying to punish the defendant, we just want to get something that’s proportionate and reflects the findings your lordship has made.”

Mr Mill said the articles “inexplicably” remained on the MailOnline after the judgment was handed down three weeks ago, arguing they have been removed shortly before Tuesday’s hearing “for strategic reasons”.

“What they should have done but did not do was take the articles down immediately on judgment being published”, he said.

The bruising legal battle centred on a letter sent by Meghan to Mr Markle in August 2018, shortly after her marriage to Prince Harry, in which she urged him to stop speaking to the media.

“It was, in short, a personal and private letter”, concluded the judge. “The majority of what was published was about the claimant’s own behaviour, her feelings of anguish about her father’s behaviour – as she saw it – and the resulting rift between them.

“These are inherently private and personal matters.”

Friends of Meghan spoke to US magazine People, and ANL claimed articles in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline from February 2019 containing the letter extracts corrected inaccuracies that were in the public domain.

However the judge concluded that was a minor point of the newspaper articles, and “for the most part they did not serve that purpose at all”.

The case was adjourned until a hearing in April when the level of damages to the Duchess will be assessed.

Lord Justice Warby accepted the proposition that she can claim ‘account of profits’ in the breach of copyright claim.

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