Meghan Markle wins final copyright legal battle

The publication of the letter to her estranged father has damaged their relationship

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Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has scored another legal victory in her civil suit against a British newspaper over the publication of a personal letter she wrote to her estranged father.

As theGRIO previously reported, a British judge ruled in February that Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline website, invaded Meghan’s privacy by publishing the letter. Judge Mark Warby said ANL misused the duchess’s private information in five February 2019 articles, which published portions of a handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, after her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry. Meghan won her case on privacy grounds, but the judge said a “limited trial” would be held to decide some of the copyright issues.

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During a virtual hearing this week, the judge agreed that that the California native owns the sole copyright to the letter, PEOPLE reports.

“The majority of what was published was about the claimant’s own behavior, her feelings of anguish about her father’s behavior, as she saw it, and the resulting rift between them,” said Judge Warby. “These are inherently private and personal matters.”

The judge also noted that the duchess “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.”

Lawyers for ANL had argued that the letter’s copyright belonged to the Crown, but attorneys representing Queen Elizabeth II refuted that. The assertion was even made that former Kensington Palace communications chief Jason Knauf owned part of the copyright,

“Mr. Knauf did not draft, and has never claimed to have drafted, any parts of the electronic draft or the letter,” Meghan’s lawyers stated in official court documents, according to the report. The duchess allegedly wrote the letter using the Notes application on her iPhone “around the first week of August 2018.”

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A source close to the duchess told Vanity Fair last fall that when it comes to seeking justice, “there’s no wavering. [Meghan] is resolute that she intends to see this to the end. It’s costing a lot of money, but no one has been in the dark about the scale of this and what it’s going to cost. The duchess’s eyes were wide open when she went into this, and she feels as strongly now as she did then that she has to draw a line in the sand. The publication of the letter and how Thomas was treated by The Mail on Sunday has caused real damage to their relationship.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watch a performance by a Welsh choir in the banqueting hall during a visit to Cardiff Castle. (Photo by Ben Birchall – WPA Pool / Getty Images)

On Thursday, Judge Warby ordered the Mail to pay the remaining 10% of Meghan’s court costs.

In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. Last summer they bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.

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