Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have told the tabloid press in Britain that they are ceasing all cooperation with them. In a letter to the editors of all Sun, Mirror, Mail and Express titles and websites, a spokesperson for the couple said they had taken the step because of "distorted, false or invasive" stories. The letter further stated that they refused to "offer themselves up as currency for an economy of click bait and distortion". "There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society," it read. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know - as well as complete strangers - have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue."
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The ban means that the PR team working for Harry and Meghan – who now live in LA - will no longer even answer phone calls from the papers asking them to confirm whether claims made about the couple are true or not, the BBC reports. "This policy is not about avoiding criticism," the letter continued. "It's not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can't be based on a lie."
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle now live in LA with their son
Some quarters have questioned Harry and Meghan's decision to make the announcement now, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, it is undoubtedly linked to a court hearing scheduled to take place on Friday. Meghan started legal proceedings after the Mail on Sunday published a private letter she had sent to her father, Thomas Markle. As a result of the current lockdown, the hearing – the first one in proceedings – is expected to be held virtually rather than in person.
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In court documents which outline details of the Duchess's claims, her solicitors said the letter was "obviously private correspondence" which detailed "her intimate thoughts and feelings about her father's health and her relationship with him at that time". Her lawyers also allege that the newspaper "chose to deliberately omit or suppress" parts of the letter, which "intentionally distorted or manipulated" its meaning, and gave her no warning it was due to be published. Associated Newspapers has wholly denied the allegations – particularly the claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning – and says it will hotly contest the case.
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The letter in full:
"As The Duke and Duchess of Sussex now settle into the next chapter of their lives and no longer receive any publicly funded support, we are writing to set a new media relations policy, specifically as it pertains to your organisation.
"Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy - particularly in moments of crisis. At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what's right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account. It has been said that journalism's first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.
"It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print - even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much-needed industry is degraded. There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society.
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know -as well as complete strangers - have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.
"With that said, please note that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.
"This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It's not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can't be based on a lie. They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever.
"What they won't do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion. We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected."