A British judge has ruled the tabloid The Mail On Sunday violated the privacy of Meghan Markle by publishing the contents of a letter she sent to her father in 2018.
"The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the Letter would remain private,” writes Judge Mark Warby of the High Court of London. “The Mail Articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.”
Warby adds:"Taken as a whole, the disclosures were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful. There is no prospect that a different judgment would be reached after a trial."
The ruling precludes a trial. However, a copyright issue will still need to be litigated, Warby determined.
Associated Newspapers is weighing whether to file an appeal, and says it it is “disappointed” in the ruling, per a spokesperson, according to NBC News.
Unclear at press time is the extent, if any, of monetary damages.
The decision could serve as a warning to publishers that utilize private documents, at least in the UK. However, it remains to be seen how courts will distinguish between personal and public papers.
Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, had sued Associated Newspapers Ltd., publisher of the Mail On Sunday, for publishing excerpts of the handwritten note to her estranged father Thomas Markle. In a statement issued on Thursday, Markle commented: "After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanizing practices.”"For these outlets, it's a game. For me and so many others, it's real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep," she said.