Madonna, who adopted the four-year-olds in February, brought the case at London’s High Court over a January 2017 article which caused her “considerable personal distress and anxiety”, solicitor Jenny Afia told Mrs Justice Nicola Davies yesterday.
It revealed the girls’ names, race, age, the fact they lived in an orphanage in Malawi and were the subject of pending applications for adoption by Madonna.
Ms Afia said: “The MailOnline published it at a time when, as the journalist ought to have appreciated, Madonna would be powerless to protect the girls from harm.
“Their actions could, in her view, have threatened the integrity and/or outcome of the adoption process which would have had potentially life-changing implications for the girls, as well as for Madonna and her family.”
Ms Afia said that Associated had made a settlement offer involving the payment of damages and costs, and Madonna would donate the damages to The Mercy James Institute for Paediatric Surgery in Malawi.
“She is pleased that at least some good can come out of the situation.”
Ms Afia said the singer, who was not in court, felt she had no option but to take action over what she regarded as a serious invasion of privacy.
She said Madonna formally began trying to adopt the girls in January 2017, and that was information which she closely guarded and wished to remain strictly private and confidential. This was to protect their safety and prevent any unwarranted interference in or prejudice to the integrity of the legal process involved in seeking their adoption.
“Under Malawian law and equivalent provisions under English law, there are rules around identifying children who are in the process of being adopted, principally for their own security and welfare.
“As an example of the practical implementation of these rules, by order dated 17 January 2017, Malawian judge Judge Mwale directed that special measures be taken to protect the girls from coming into contact with the media during a hearing at the High Court of Madonna’s petitions for their adoption.”
After the hearing, Ms Afia said: “Madonna brought this litigation because the newspaper threatened her girls’ safety by naming them before they were adopted. She will always take all possible steps to protect her family’s wellbeing.”