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Meghan Markle's legal fees to cost £1.8m in high court privacy case

The Duchess of Sussex has taken legal action against Associated Newspapers

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Sussex's legal fees for her High Court privacy case could cost up to £1.8m, it has been revealed in documents at the latest preliminary hearing on Monday.

Jessie Bowhill, who represents the Duchess, said: "The overall total costs figures are £1,798,043.57 for the claimant and £1,230,425 for the defendant."

She added: "At the broad brush level, £1.8 million is a reasonable and proportionate amount for a seven to 10-day trial in the High Court in a case concerning private information, personal data and intellectual property rights of a high-profile individual."

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Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over articles which featured parts of a "private and confidential" letter from the Duchess to her estranged father, Thomas Markle in 2019.

On Monday, lawyers for the Duchess also denied she "collaborated" with authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand for their royal biography Finding Freedom.

At the hearing, ANL sought permission to amend its written defence to Meghan’s claim to argue she "co-operated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to put out their version of certain events".

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But Meghan's lawyers argued that references in the book by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, which was published in August, were simply "extracts from the letter lifted from the defendant’s own articles".

In written submissions, Justin Rushbrooke QC said: "The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the book."

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Harry, Meghan and Archie now live in Santa Barbara

The latest hearing comes after the Duchess won a bid in August to keep secret the identities of five friends who gave an anonymous interview to PEOPLE magazine. 

Mr Justice Warby ruled that Meghan's friends will remain anonymous "for the time being at least," in the judgement given last month.

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A source close to the team representing the Duchess, at the time said: "The Duchess felt it was necessary to take this step to try and protect her friends - as any of us would - and we’re glad this was clear. We are happy that the Judge has agreed to protect these five individuals."

 A trial date has been provisionally set for January 2021. 

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