Meghan Markle’s lawyers on Wednesday asked a judge in a London court to keep the names of five of their friends out of the public domain as they were fighting a privacy-breach battle against the British newspaper.
Meghan’s lawyer said the female friends, who defended her in an anonymous magazine interview last year, are innocent parties who fear intrusion if her name comes up. The goal of their lawsuit, Associated Newspapers Ltd, argues that the principle of open justice – the public’s right to know – means the identification of friends.
The Duchess of Sussex is suing the Sunday newspaper with five articles on the Mail’s publisher and the UK High Court’s MailOnline website, in which she published parts of a handwritten letter that she made after marrying Prince Harry in 2018, Wrote to his distinguished father Thomas Markle. .
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Meghan, 38, is seeking damages from the publisher for misuse of personal information, copyright infringement and data security violations. His lawyers say that publishing the letter was “a major and inappropriate intrusion into his personal and family life.” Associated Newspapers says it will forcefully assert the claim.
In a one-and-a-half-day pretrial hearing, Meghan’s lawyers asked Judge Mark Warby to stop publishing personal details of friends who spoke to People magazine in early 2019 to condemn the alleged bullying by the UK press.
The names of the women are included in a confidential court document, but they have been publicly identified only as A to E.
Meghan’s attorney, Justin Rushbrook, argued that it was the court’s duty to “protect the identity of confidential journalistic sources.”
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He said that with a full high-profile libel trial yet to begin, the court must be vigilant and “protect the innocent party that is suspected of infiltration.”
But Mel’s lawyer Antony White said that granting benami property would “significantly undermine the critical open justice doctrine.” ”
“Friends are important potential witnesses on an important issue,” White said in a written argument. He said that deleting his name would be “a great expose of the media and the defendant’s right to report the matter and the public’s right to know about it.”
Associated Newspapers said it was Meghan’s friends who brought Thomas Markle’s letter into the public domain by describing it in a People article. It is argued that the description of the letter in that article must have come “directly or indirectly” from the Duchess.
But Rushbrook said that Meghan did not know at the time that her friends were talking to the magazine. She said the anonymous interviews were arranged by one of five friends, who were worried at the time with their first child, worried about criticism from the toll media.
In the statement of a witness presented in the case, the Duchess stated, “Each of these women is a private citizen, a young mother, and each has a fundamental right to privacy.”
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“These five women are not on trial, nor do I,” she wrote. The Mail publisher on Sunday is the one on trial. This is the publisher who has acted unlawfully and is attempting to avoid accountability; To create and distract a circus from the point of the matter – that the Mail on Sunday illegally made my personal publication. “
Meghan, the former star of the TV legal drama “Suits”, married Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson Harry in a grand ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son Archie was born the following year.
In January, the couple announced that they were returning as senior members of the royal family.
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Neither Harry nor Meghan appeared in court for Wednesday’s hearing. The judge said he would give his decision “as soon as possible”.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.