Meghan Markle has lost the first round of her legal battle against the publisher of U.K. tabloid The Mail on Sunday.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Markle last year, centers on the newspaper’s publication of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. The Duchess of Sussex is suing publisher Associated Newspapers for misuse of personal data, breach of copyright and invasion of privacy, and also claims the tabloid selectively edited the letter. The publisher has denied all allegations.
On Friday, Associated Newspapers won its attempts to have parts of Markle’s breach of privacy claim struck from the case in a preliminary hearing last week.
The judge, Mr Justice Warby, struck allegations that Associated Newspapers acted “dishonestly” by excluding passages of the letter, as well as claims that the publisher stirred up problems between the father and daughter and that the outlet had an agenda to publish harmful stories about Markle.
The judge added, however, that what was struck from Markle’s claim does not concern other allegations, which include the misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act. Justice Warby also warned that the portions of Markle’s claim struck today could still return at a later point in the legal proceedings.
A spokesperson for London-based law firm Schillings, who are acting on behalf of Markle, told Variety that the ruling “makes very clear that the core elements of this case do not change and will continue to move forward.”
“The Duchess’ rights were violated; the legal boundaries around privacy were crossed. As part of this process, the extremes to which The Mail on Sunday used distortive, manipulative and dishonest tactics to target The Duchess of Sussex have been put on full display,” said the spokesperson.
“Whilst the Judge recognizes that there is a claim for breach of privacy and copyright, we are surprised to see that his ruling suggests that dishonest behaviour is not relevant. We feel honesty and integrity are at the core of what matters; or as it relates to the Mail on Sunday and Associated Newspapers, their lack thereof.”
Markle’s team, however, said it “respects” the judge’s decision “as the strong case against Associated will continue to focus on the issue of a private, intimate and hand-written letter from a daughter to her father that was published by The Mail on Sunday.”
Last month, Markle and Prince Harry severed all ties with the U.K. tabloid press.
The couple, which has now relocated to California from Canada, sent a letter on April 19 to the editors of outlets The Sun, The Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and all affiliated titles, informing them they will no longer co-operate on stories. The directive came just weeks after the couple formally stepped back as senior royals.
The ban, spelled out in the letter as “no corroboration and zero engagement,” effectively means that the couple and their PR team will not respond to queries from the select media outlets.