Meghan’s estranged father Thomas Markle could testify against her in her legal battle with the Mail on Sunday, High Court documents have revealed.
The Duchess of Sussex is suing the newspaper and its parent company Associated Newspapers, accusing it of unlawfully publishing a private letter written to her father in the weeks leading up to her wedding to Prince Harry.
Lawyers for Meghan allege misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 in publishing the letter.
The Mail on Sunday rejects each claim and will argue it was justified in printing extracts because there is a ‘huge and legitimate’ public interest in the ‘personal relationships’ of members of the royal family.
High Court documents, seen by the BBC, suggest the paper will claim Meghan and other royals ‘rely on publicity about themselves and their lives to maintain the privileged positions they hold’.
The legal documents have also revealed the newspaper will rely on evidence from Mr Markle, including that he ‘had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened between himself and his daughter including the contents of the letter’.
It means should the case go to trial, both Meghan and her father could be called to testify against one another.
The Mail on Sunday’s sister publication the Daily Mail today reports that Mr Markle would be prepared to face her in court.
Meghan was seen for the first time in Canada after visiting a woman’s centre in Vancouver amid the fallout from her and Prince Harry’s bombshell announcement that they wish to ‘step back’ as senior royals.
The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver posted a photo with the duchess and said she visited to discuss ‘issues affecting women in the community’.
In their statement last week, Meghan and Harry declared their wish to spend more time in North America with their young son Archie going forward.
Law firm Schillings, representing the duchess, filed the High Court claim against the newspaper in October.
But in its legal defence, the paper claims the duchess ‘did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so’.
The paper also argues the publication of the letter was in response to a ‘one-sided’ article in People Magazine in February 2019 featuring an interview with five unnamed ‘close friends’ of the duchess which referenced the letter, meaning its existence was in the public domain.
It comes just 24 hours after the Queen agreed Harry and Meghan could begin a ‘new life’ as an ‘independent’ family.
Buckingham Palace also confirmed the Sussexes would begin a ‘transition period’ in which they would split their time between the UK and Canada.
In pictures published by The Sun last night, Meghan was seen boarding a commercial seaplane in Vancouver Island, where she is currently staying with baby Archie.
In February, the Mail On Sunday published extracts of Meghan’s handwritten letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
In one extract, published by the newspaper, the duchess wrote: ‘Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces – not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand.’
Mr Markle was caught up in controversy in the build-up to the 2018 wedding after he allegedly staged paparazzi photographs of himself and then began commenting regularly to entertainment website TMZ about his contact with his daughter.
When the legal action was announced in October, Harry claimed the alleged unlawful publication of the private letter was done in ‘an intentionally destructive manner’ to ‘manipulate’ readers.
In a statement released at the time, a spokeswoman for law firm Schillings claimed the ‘intrusive’ publication of the letter was part of Associated Newspapers’ campaign to write ‘false and deliberately derogatory stories about’ Meghan, ‘as well as her husband’.
But the Mail On Sunday said it would stand by the story and denied editing the letter to change its meaning.
Meanwhile, it was revealed on Tuesday the duchess did not join the royal summit with the Queen and senior royals by phone and instead relied on her husband to put forward their case.
The move has raised questions over the costs of the couple’s security during their time in North America and who would foot the bill.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the costs, and what role they will play in Canadian life, would be the subject of future discussions.