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Meghan Markle wrote letter to father 'knowing it could be leaked' - claims former press secretary

The Duchess of Sussex sued ANL over a private letter she sent to her father Thomas Markle

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Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
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The Duchess of Sussex wrote a handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, knowing it may be leaked to the press, according to her former head of communications.

In a witness statement made public by the Court of Appeal, Jason Knauf said that Meghan had "lost confidence" that the letter she wrote and communications to Mr Markle would be respected.

He said in his statement: "When the Duchess was considering how to handle Mr Markle's increasing public interventions – both for concerns about his welfare and also to protect her reputation – she explored options for written communication that might convince him to stop giving interviews, but that could also set the record straight if he gave them to the media."

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He continued: "The Duchess said she was writing the letter in part to allow the Duke to demonstrate to his family that some action was being taken by the couple to stop Mr Markle from continuing to engage with the media. She added that '…while unlikely perhaps it will also give my father a moment to pause’.”

Mr Knauf added: "She asked me to review the text of the letter, saying 'obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice but please do let me know if anything stands out for you as a liability'."

The Court of Appeal heard how Meghan had asked if she should call her father "daddy" in the letter, saying it would "pull at the heartstrings" if leaked.

Mr Knauf said in his statement: "She also asked a specific question regarding addressing Mr Markle as 'daddy' in the letter, saying 'given I've only ever called him daddy it may make sense to open as such (despite him being less than paternal), and in the unfortunate event that it leaked it would pull at the heartstrings'."

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meghan markle outing

The Sussexes' former press secretary's statement has been made public

He added that the Duchess had "deliberately ended each page part way through a sentence so that no page could be falsely presented as the end of the letter.

"In the event that it was leaked she wanted the full narrative as set out in the letter to be understood and shared.

"She said she felt 'fantastic' after writing it and added that 'And if he leaks it then that's on his conscious (sic) but at least the world will know the truth. Words I could never voice publicly'."

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sussexes 2020© Photo: Getty Images

Meghan was granted a summary judgment in her privacy claim

Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), also the publisher of MailOnline, is challenging a ruling earlier this year that its publication of Meghan’s letter was "manifestly excessive and hence unlawful".

At the start of the case on Tuesday, the publisher argued the letter "was written with public consumption in mind as a possibility".

The Duchess sued ANL over a series of articles which reproduced parts of a "personal and private" letter to Mr Markle in August 2018.

She claimed the five articles, published in print and online in February 2019, misused her private information, infringed her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.


Meghan appeared at the New York Times DealBook/Online Summit on Tuesday

In her written evidence to the Court of Appeal, Meghan denied she thought it likely that her father would leak the document, but had prepared for the possibility.

She said: "While we had to recognize that anything was possible in the extraordinary circumstances in which we were living and therefore the need to mitigate against the risks of disclosure of the letter's contents, I did not think that my father would sell or leak the letter, primarily because it would not put him in a good light."

She later added: "I had not heard from him since the week leading up to our wedding, but it seemed incredibly unlikely that he would disclose the contents because they contained unpalatable truths and would thereby negate the falsehoods the media had attributed to him.

"The main purpose of the letter was to encourage my father to stop talking to the press. To be clear, I did not want any of it to be published, and wanted to ensure that the risk of it being manipulated or misleadingly edited was minimised, were it to be exploited."

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