The Duchess of Sussex has taken steps to prevent the Mail Online and the Mail on Sunday from naming five of her friends in court, in her case against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL). A source close to Meghan has confirmed that she has filed an application to ask the court to ensure that the names contained in the confidential filing are kept confidential.
The Duchess is suing Associated Newspapers, publisher of the two titles and MailOnline, over articles which featured parts of a "private and confidential" letter from the Duchess to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
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The five close friends of the duchess were interviewed but not named in a PEOPLE magazine article - something Meghan says she was not involved with.
As part of Thursday's court filing, the Duchess of Sussex provided a witness statement, in which she says: "Associated Newspapers, the owner of The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, is threatening to publish the names of five women - five private citizens - who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a US media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behaviour of Britain's tabloid media.
"These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial. It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case - that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.
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Meghan has filed an application to the court
"Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy. Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.
"The Mail on Sunday is playing a media game with real lives.
"I respectfully ask the court to treat this legal matter with the sensitivity it deserves, and to prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from breaking precedent and abusing the legal process by identifying these anonymous individuals - a privilege that these newspapers in fact rely upon to protect their own unnamed sources."
A Mail on Sunday spokesman said: "To set the record straight, The Mail on Sunday had absolutely no intention of publishing the identities of the five friends this weekend. But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identities should be kept secret. That is why we told the Duchess's lawyers last week that the question of their confidentiality should be properly considered by the court."
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