Meghan Markle wins remainder of UK copyright case against Associated Newspapers

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle
Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
  • Meghan Markle has won the remainder of her case against Associated Newspapers over the publication of a letter she'd sent to her father.
  • Judge Mark Warby said lawyers for the queen assured him the copyright did not belong to the Crown so he was granting "summary judgement" over that remaining aspect of the case.
  • The news comes shortly after Meghan Markle revealed the news of her new children's book, which online trolls claimed she copied from another author.
  • Corrinne Averiss, author of The Boy On The Bench, has since responded to the claims.

A British court on Wednesday upheld Meghan Markle's copyright claim against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over its publication of a letter to her father.

The ruling by judge Mark Warby means the Duchess of Sussex has now won every part of her legal claim against the newspaper group, which published a handwritten letter she wrote to her father Thomas Markle.

Warby said on Wednesday at a remote hearing lawyers acting for Queen Elizabeth had assured him the copyright did not belong to the Crown so he was granting "summary judgement" over that remaining aspect of the case, too.

In February the High Court issued Meghan with a "summary judgement", meaning she won her privacy and data protection rights claims against Associated Newspapers over the letter's publication without having to go to trial. 

Warby also ordered the Mail on Sunday to print a front-page statement acknowledging her legal victory.

But the judge said at the time her copyright claim needed further scrutiny because the newspaper group suggested Meghan did not fully own the letter's copyright and members of the royal communications team helped her draft it.

Meghan's solicitor, Ian Mill QC, said on Wednesday lawyers for the Keeper of the Privy Purse - the official responsible for the monarch's private funds - had written "disclaiming any claim to copyright on behalf of the crown".

Mill said he also received a letter from lawyers for Jason Knauf, previously communications secretary to the Sussexes, saying he did not write or help draft the letter.

The newspaper group's lawyer, Andrew Caldecott, said it was "a matter of regret" that Knauf had not clarified this earlier. 

Meghan's letter to her estranged father was written a few months after she married Prince Harry, and asked him to stop talking to tabloids and making false claims about her in interviews.

Meghan and her husband, the Duke of Sussex, have successfully mounted further legal action over media breaches of their privacy since moving to the United States last year.

At the same time the couple have engaged with media on their own terms, giving an explosive interview in March to US chat show host Oprah Winfrey, in which they said unnamed royals had made racist remarks about how dark their son's skin would be.

Meghan's victory comes shortly after Prince Harry returned to California from the UK, following his attendance at Prince Philip's funeral, and his appearance on Sunday at Global Citizen's Vax Live concert - the event hopes to encourage vaccine confidence worldwide and will broadcast globally on 8 May.

The Duchess of Sussex has also remained active during her time in the US, with the recent news of her first children's book, The Bench.

Though she's received backlash for the publication from online trolls accusing her of copying the cover and illustrations of Corrinne Averiss' The Boy On The Bench, the author herself has since defended the duchess.

"Reading the description and published excerpt of the Duchess’s new book, this is not the same story or the same theme as The Boy on the Bench. I don’t see any similarities," she wrote on Twitter.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24