A newspaper invaded the Duchess of Sussex’s privacy by publishing a personal letter to her estranged father, a British judge ruled Thursday, in a major victory for the royal in her campaign against what she sees as media intrusion. The former American actress Meghan Markle, 39, sued publisher Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that published large portions of a letter she wrote to her father after her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, per the AP. High Court judge Mark Warby ruled that the publisher had misused the duchess’s private information and infringed her copyright. He said the duchess “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.” Legal damages have not yet been determined.
Meghan said she was grateful to the court for holding Associated Newspapers to account “for their illegal and dehumanizing practices.” Meghan’s lawyers said the “deeply personal” five-page letter was intended to be read by her father alone. Associated Newspapers said it was “very surprised" at the judgment and hasn't decided whether to appeal. At hearings last month, lawyers for the duchess asked for a summary judgment to settle the case without a trial, one in which she might have had to testify against her father, Thomas Markle. In granting the request, the judge said the publisher's disclosures of Meghan's private letter “were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.” Thursday’s ruling means Meghan has won her case on privacy and copyright infringement grounds, but the judge said a “limited trial” should be held to decide the “minor” issue of whether Meghan was “the sole author” and lone copyright holder of the letter. (Read more Meghan Markle stories.)