By Ron Howells • 05 May 2021 • 19:18
Meghan Markle's "poverty letter" claims under question. image: Wikimedia
Meghan Markle Wins Copyright Claim Against Mail On Sunday Over Letter To Father.
The Duchess of Sussex has won her copyright claim against the Mail On Sunday over the publication of a handwritten letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
Meghan, 39, sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), which also publishes MailOnline, over articles that reproduced parts of the letter sent to her 76-year-old dad in August 2018. The Duchess has won most of her claim for misuse of private information and copyright infringement in February.
Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) – the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline – had previously argued the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf was a co-author of the letter, meaning its copyright belonged to the Crown.
On Wednesday, the High Court heard that Mr. Knauf has “emphatically” denied co-writing the letter to Thomas Markle. Through his lawyers, he said, “it was the duchess’s letter alone”.
In a remote hearing in Meghan’s long-running case against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), her counsel Ian Mill QC said the publisher had advanced the argument that Knauf could have part-written the letter with “no honest belief” that this was so, and in the knowledge that it “did not have the material it needed” to successfully defend its case.
Asking for summary judgment in the copyright claim, Mill told the judge: “She [Meghan] and she alone created the electronic draft, which she then transcribed by hand so as to create the letter.’ Knauf had contributed only ideas, as opposed to the actual wording.
Meghan was previously granted summary judgment in her privacy claim against ANL in February. ANL is seeking an appeal.
Mill said ANL’s copyright defence had had “no prospect of success” and it had pleaded a case it knew could not be true. The publisher had also sought to “litigate the case through the media” by publishing a front-page article in the Daily Mail headlined: “Palace press officer ‘helped Meghan write THAT letter to dad’.”
ANL previously said it believed Knauf was a co-author, which it argued meant the letter belonged to the crown. But the judge heard that lawyers for the keeper of the privy purse, acting on behalf of the Queen, had told Meghan’s solicitors they “did not consider the crown to be the copyright owner”.
Andrew Caldecott QC, for ANL, said the case that Knauf could have helped write an electronic draft of the letter had not been “fanciful”. The Mail on Sunday’s editor, Ted Verity, had had a face-to-face meeting with a “senior member of the royal household”, known only as “Source U”, who said the letter had gone through many drafts. There was “not a shred of evidence that this confidential source did not exist,” Caldecott said.
ANL’s lawyers had given Knauf the opportunity to say he did not help draft the letter before the publisher submitted its amended defence containing the allegations, but “answer came there none”, said Caldecott. He said this was “a matter of regret”.
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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