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Meghan Markle talks 'deeply painful process' in latest legal documents

The trial for the Duchess of Sussex's legal case has been postponed to autumn 2021

meghan markle high court case
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
Updated: November 18, 2020
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The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that both her husband Prince Harry and Kensington Palace’s then communications secretary Jason Knauf gave her feedback before she wrote a letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle. 

Responding to claims from Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) that Mr Knauf “and/or” the Kensington Palace communications team “contributed” to a draft of the letter, Meghan's legal team stated in their reply that the Duchess shared a draft – of the notes she wrote on her iPhone – with Harry and Mr Knauf.

The document said: "She shared a draft of that draft with her husband and Mr Knauf for support, as this was a deeply painful process that they lived through with her."

READ: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's new office staff revealed

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It added: "In the course of a discussion between them, Mr Knauf provided feedback on that draft but no actual wording, as this was a personal letter from daughter to father.

"The comments Mr Knauf provided were in the form of 'general ideas' as opposed to actual wording."

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter sent to her estranged dad Thomas in August 2018.

PA reports that ANL's legal team says in its document: "It is for the claimant to prove she was the only person who contributed to the writing of the electronic draft.

"Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the defendant infers that Jason Knauf and/or others in the Kensington Palace Communications team contributed to the writing of the electronic draft."

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harry meghan commonwealth arrival© Photo: Getty Images

The lawyers claim the Duchess' letter is not her "intellectual creation" and therefore not original work, as it was copied from an electronic draft, and had the input of the communications team and contained pre-existing facts including Meghan’s "view of her father and his conduct", and so was not subject to copyright protection.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle in August 2018.

Meghan admits to giving personal information to authors of Finding Freedom through a third party

The latest documents reveal that the Duchess allowed a friend to tell the authors of royal biography Finding Freedom about the existence of a letter she had written to her father. 

The court papers state: "[Meghan] was concerned that her father's narrative in the media that she had abandoned him" would be repeated in the book, adding that the Duchess had tried to call him and text Thomas, as well as writing a letter to him. 

finding freedom© Photo: Getty Images

Finding Freedom was published in August

It adds: "Accordingly, she indicated to a person whom she knew had already been approached by the authors that the true position as above... could be communicated to the authors to prevent any further misrepresentation."

The papers state that the Meghan nor Harry co-operated with Finding Freedom's authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand to put out "their version of events" by means of the book, a stance that the couple have maintained since before its publication in August. 

Meghan admits letter was written on advice of 'two senior royals'

New court documents reveal that the Duchess sought advice from two senior members of the royal family about how to responde to her father, which prompted her to write the letter at the centre of the letter battle. 

rcj© Photo: Getty Images

The trial has been delayed until autumn 2021

The document, submitted to the High Court by Meghan's legal team, said: "Given the claimant’s level of distress surrounding the form, frequency and content of the media coverage concerning her father, and as the newest member of the royal family who wanted to follow protocol, the claimant sought advice from two senior members of the royal family on how best to address the situation.

"In accordance with the advice that she had received from the two members of the royal family, the claimant decided (in about the first week of August 2018) to write a private letter to her father in an attempt to get him to stop talking to the press."

The two senior royals have not been named in the documents. 

Meghan's privacy trial postponed on "confidential ground"

In October, a High Court judge accepted Meghan's application to postpone the date of the full trial in the case she has brought against Associated Newspapers. 

The trial date provisionally set for 11 January 2021 has now been vacated and a new date is set to be confirmed for autumn 2021 after Meghan's legal team gave a "confidential ground" as to why a postponement was needed.

However, the Duchess lost a bid to stop Finding Freedom, a royal biography about her and husband Prince Harry, being used by the Mail On Sunday as part of its defence

Meghan was also granted permission to apply for a "summary judgment" in January 2021, which if successful would mean that a judge would rule on the case without the need for a full trial. 

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