LONDON(Reuters) - Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, will learn on Thursday whether she has won her privacy battle against a tabloid newspaper without the case going to a potentially-embarrassing trial which could see her face off against her father.
Meghan, 39, the wife of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry, is suing publisher Associated Newspapers after its Mail on Sunday tabloid printed extracts of the handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.
She says the articles breached her privacy and copyright, and last month her lawyers asked London High Court judge Mark Warby to rule in her favour without the need for trial later this year, arguing the paper had no chance of winning.
Warby is due to hand down his verdict at 1600 GMT.
Meghan wrote the five-page letter to Markle after their relationship collapsed in the run-up to her glittering wedding to Harry in May 2018, which her father missed due to ill health and after he admitted posing for paparazzi pictures.
The Mail published extracts in Feb. 2019, and has argued it did so to allow Markle to respond to comments made by Meghan’s anonymous friends in interviews with the U.S. magazine People.
In two days of hearings, her lawyers say printing the “personal and sensitive” letter was a “triple-barrelled” assault on “her private life, her family life and her correspondence” and plainly breached her privacy.
The paper argued the duchess always intended the letter’s contents to become public and it formed part of a media strategy, pointing out she had admitted in court papers discussing it with her communications secretary.
If the judge rules against Meghan, it raises the prospect of the duchess, former senior royal aides and her father all giving evidence in court.
“It was only by publishing the text of the letter that I could properly set the record straight and show that what People magazine had published was false and unfair,” Markle said in a witness statement in support of the Mail.
The trial had been due to start in January but was delayed until late 2021 at Meghan’s request last year because of a confidential reason.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Alexandra Hudson