Meghan applies to block naming of friends in ‘tabloid bullying’ court case

The Duchess of Sussex has applied to the High Court to stop the publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday from naming her five friends who spoke anonymously to a US magazine to defend her from tabloid “bullying”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attending the Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House in London. Picture: Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attending the Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House in London. Picture: Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, publisher of the two titles and MailOnline, over five articles - two in the Mail on Sunday and three on MailOnline - which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father Mr Markle, 75, in August 2018.

The duchess has claimed that identifying her friends, who were interviewed but not named by People magazine, would be for “no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain.”

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The Mail on Sunday said the paper had “no intention” of identifying the friends in its next edition but the question of their anonymity should be considered by the court.

In the article, published in February last year, the friends spoke out against the bullying the duchess said she has faced, and have since only been identified in confidential court documents.

In a witness statement submitted as part of the application, Meghan said: “Associated Newspapers, the owner of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, is threatening to publish the names of five women - five private citizens - who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a US media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behaviour of UK tabloid media.

“These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial. It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case - that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.

“Each of these women is a citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy.

“For the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.”
A Mail on Sunday spokesman said: “We had absolutely no intention of publishing the identities of the five friends this weekend. But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identities should be kept secret.

“We told the duchess’s lawyers last week that the question of their confidentiality should be considered by the court.”

Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations, particularly the claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

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