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Meghan Markle Seeks 1.5 Million Pounds in Costs After Court Privacy Win

File image of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

File image of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Ian Mill, an attorney for Meghan, said the defendant defiantly continues to do the very acts which the court has held are unlawful.

Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, is seeking 1.5 million pounds ($2.1 million) in legal costs after she won a privacy claim against the Mail on Sunday which had printed extracts of a letter she wrote to her father.

Last month, a judge at London’s High Court ruled the tabloid had breached her privacy and infringed her copyright by publishing parts of the five-page letter she wrote to her father Thomas Markle who she fell out with on the eve of her wedding to Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, Prince Harry.

Judge Mark Warby ruled in her favour without holding a trial, saying the articles were a clear breach of privacy after the paper argued the duchess had intended the letter’s contents to become public and it formed part of a media strategy.

At a hearing on Tuesday to determine costs and other unresolved issues, documents submitted to the court showed that Meghan’s lawyers had asked for 1.5 million pounds in legal fees, with half the amount to be paid within 14 days.

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Her legal team has also demanded the paper hands over any copies it has of the letter, and called for the judge to order the paper to publish a statement on its front page stating she had won her case, with a notice also placed on the MailOnline’s home page for “not less than 6 months”.

“The first reason why the claimant seeks an order for publication and dissemination is to act as a deterrent to future infringers,” her lawyers wrote in their submission.

Her lawyer Ian Mill told the hearing that they were not seeking to punish the paper, and would accept nominal damages based on the profits the Mail made from its articles, saying this was a “proportionate” way forward.

The Mail is seeking permission to appeal Warby’s ruling and also argues that other issues such as whether Meghan had sole ownership of copyright to the letter needed to be addressed.

As regards to Meghan’s decision to only seek nominal damages, the paper’s lawyers wrote: “No purpose would be served by a hearing to determine the precise amount, which by definition is not relevant. It is suggested that 1 pound, 2 pounds or 5 pounds would do.”

Meghan, 39, and husband Harry, 39, have rarely been off the front pages of Britain’s newspapers in the last month, having announced they were expecting their second child, followed by news of their final split with the royal family, following their decision to move to California last year.

On Sunday, a highly-anticipated in-depth interview they gave to U.S. chat show queen Oprah Winfrey will be aired.

The British newspaper publisher said it plans to appeal against a judges ruling that it invaded the privacy of the Duchess of Sussex by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry.

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 reproduced large portions of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle.

High Court judge Mark Warby ruled last month that the publisher had misused the duchesss private information and infringed her copyright. He said the duchess had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private and concluded the papers publication of large chunks of it was manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.

In written submissions released as part of a court hearing on Tuesday, Associated Newspapers lawyer Antony White sought permission to appeal, saying a bid to overturn Warbys ruling would have a real prospect of success.

Lawyers for Meghan, meanwhile, demanded the publisher hand over the letter and destroy any electronic copies or notes it held. They also asked the judge to order the Mail on Sunday to remove the five articles from its website and to run a front-page statement about the duchess legal victory.

Ian Mill, an attorney for Meghan, said the defendant defiantly continues to do the very acts which the court has held are unlawful.

The defendant has failed to deliver up copies it has of the letter such that the threat to infringe and further to misuse her private information remains real and, inexplicably, the defendant has still not removed the infringing articles from MailOnline,” he said in a written submission.

Meghan, a former star of the American TV legal drama Suits, married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year.

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. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child.

In his ruling last month, 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. It is expected to take place in the fall.

first published:March 02, 2021, 19:19 IST