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Meghan Markle's legal battles through the years as half-sister launches US lawsuit

The Duchess of Sussex shared a powerful statement after her longstanding privacy case against ANL

meghan markle legal battles
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are facing a deposition as part of a US defamation case brought by Meghan's half-sister, it emerged on Wednesday.

Samantha Markle is suing the duchess for "defamation and injurious falsehood" following the couple’s high-profile tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021.

WATCH: Harry and Meghan in 2022 - legal battle, Netflix series and more

In a filing submitted in March last year, Samantha claimed that "demonstrably false and malicious statements" were made by Meghan to a "worldwide audience".

In the filing, she alleged she was defamed by Meghan in the interview when the Duchess "falsely and maliciously" said that she was "an only child".

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The planned depositions follow the Sussexes' explosive Netflix series and the publication of Harry's memoir, Spare, last month.

Both Meghan and Harry have been involved in several legal battles in recent years, with the Duke's libel claim against the publisher of The Mail on Sunday, Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), currently temporarily paused to see if a settlement can be reached.

Meghan Markle© Photo: Getty Images

Meghan won her privacy and copyright claims against ANL

If no settlement is agreed, Harry will ask the court to either strike out ANL's defence or give summary judgment in his favour, avoiding the need for a trial.

Back in March 2020, the Duke and Duchess took Splash UK photo agency to court after Meghan and her son were photographed without permission in Canada during a "private family outing". The case was settled later that year with Splash UK agreeing to no longer take unauthorised photos of the family.

Meghan Markle's legal battle against Associated Newspapers Ltd

Meanwhile, the Duchess brought a successful privacy claim against ANL over articles which reproduced parts of a "personal and private" handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

Meghan began the legal action against the newspaper publisher in October 2019.

In February 2021, she was granted a "summary judgment" in her claim for misuse of private information against ANL.  

Mr Justice Warby said at the time: "The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation."

Royal Courts of Justice© Photo: Getty Images

Meghan's privacy case was heard at the High Court

And in May 2021, Meghan won her claim in relation to the remaining parts of her copyright claim, after lawyers acting on behalf of the late Queen said it does not belong to the Crown.

While ANL appealed the High Court's decision, judges dismissed the appeal to overturn Meghan's victory in the privacy battle in December 2021.

Following the decision, the Duchess released a powerful statement, in which she said: "This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what's right. While this win is precedent setting, what matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create.  From day one, I have treated this lawsuit as an important measure of right versus wrong."

The Mail on Sunday printed a front page apology on 26 December 2021 – as ordered by the courts – acknowledging that the Duchess won her copyright claim against the newspaper's publisher. ANL was also ordered to cover part of Meghan's legal costs.

In January 2022, it was confirmed in court documents that Meghan was awarded £1 nominal damages for misuse of private information, along with an undisclosed sum for copyright infringement which she donated to charity, after winning her case.

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