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Meghan Markle seeks £1.5m in legal costs and front page apology in court case

The Duchess of Sussex won a bid to avoid a trial for her privacy claim

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Sussex has been granted an interim £450,000 as payment towards her £1.5m legal costs in her privacy case against The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline. 

Tuesday's remote hearing followed Meghan's "comprehensive win" against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), publishers of The Mail on Sunday and Mail on Sunday, whom she sued over five articles published in February 2019, which reproduced parts of a "heartfelt" handwritten letter sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle.

The Duchess is also seeking a front page apology and a High Court order that the newspaper hand over any copies of the letter, and to destroy any electronic copies of it or any notes made about it. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Meghan and Harry's Oprah interview: what to expect, how to watch and more

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WATCH: Prince Harry tells Oprah he feared history repeating itself

Meghan's legal team had asked for ANL to pay £750,000 within two weeks as "an interim payment on account" of the Duchess' legal costs in bringing the claim. 

At Tuesday's hearing, Lord Justice Warby also dismissed an application by ANL for permission to appeal against last month's ruling, saying it had "no real prospect" of success.

The judge added: "The Court of Appeal, of course, may take a different view and the defendant has a right to renew this application to a Court of Appeal judge."

Lord Justice Warby also granted the Duchess "a final injunction restraining misuse of private information," but he refused to grant an injunction in relation to Meghan's copyright claim, saying it would not be "appropriate" while parts of that claim are unresolved.

MORE: Will Meghan Markle reveal her second baby's gender during Oprah Winfrey interview?

MORE: Prince Harry and Meghan seen for first time since trailers for upcoming Oprah tell-all

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Harry and Meghan stepped back from royal duties in March 2020

In a ruling in February, Mr Justice Warby granted Meghan summary judgment in relation to her privacy claim, which negated the need for a full trial. 

He said: "The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation."

He said that "the only tenable justification for any such interference was to correct some inaccuracies about the letter", contained in an article in People magazine which featured an interview with five friends of Meghan.

But Mr Justice Warby added: "The inescapable conclusion is that, save to the very limited extent I have identified, the disclosures made were not a necessary or proportionate means of serving that purpose.

"For the most part they did not serve that purpose at all. Taken as a whole the disclosures were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful."

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Meghan was granted a summary judgment in a hearing last month

Following the outcome at February's hearing, in a statement Meghan thanked husband Prince Harry and her mother Doria Ragland for their support, and said she is "grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanizing practices".

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are expecting their second child, are now living in Santa Barbara following their decision to step back from royal duties in March 2020.

The latest hearing comes ahead of Harry and Meghan's primetime interview with Oprah Winfrey, which will air on Sunday 7 March.

CBS released preview clips on Monday which showed Oprah questioning Meghan whether she was "silent or silenced", and later asked the Duchess: "Almost unsurvivable. Sounds like there was a breaking point?"

The video then cut to Harry, who remarked: "My biggest fear was history repeating itself."

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