The Duchess of Sussex has lost the first stage of her legal battle with the publisher of the Mail on Sunday as the judgement from a preliminary hearing was handed down today.
Following the remote hearing on Friday, April 24, it was announced that Justice Warby has ruled in favor of the publisher and struck out parts of Meghan’s claim against them.
However, a spokesperson for her legal representatives, Schillings, said that the case will continue to move forward and its “core elements” have not changed.
The Duchess is suing Associated Newspapers Limited for the alleged breach of privacy, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 after it published extracts of a letter she wrote to her father. Court documents logged last month also revealed text messages sent from Meghan and Harry to her father just before their wedding.
Justice Warby’s judgement, released just after midday in the UK today, reads: “I agree that all three categories of allegation should be struck out of the Particulars of Claim, and the Further Information about it. I also agree that passages of the Reply should be struck out.”
However, he continued: “Some of these conclusions are however without prejudice to the claimant’s right to come back with an application for permission to make amendments that comply with the applicable law and principles.”
His judgement means that when the case proceeds the court will not consider these parts of the claim: that the Mail on Sunday acted dishonestly and in bad faith, deliberately stirred up conflict between Meghan and her father, and had an agenda of publishing intrusive or offensive stories.
The judge outlined that some of the arguments were struck out because they were “irrelevant to the purpose for which they are pleaded” and some because they were “inadequately detailed.”
A spokesman for the Duchess confirmed that she would not be appealing the decision. A spokesperson for Schillings, who are acting on her behalf in court, said in a statement: “Today’s ruling makes very clear that the core elements of this case do not change and will continue to move forward.”
The statement also read: “Whilst the Judge recognises that there is a claim for breach of privacy and copyright, we are surprised to see that his ruling suggests that dishonest behaviour is not relevant.”
It continued: “Nonetheless, we respect the Judge’s decision as the strong case against Associated will continue to focus on the issue of a private, intimate and hand-written letter from a daughter to her father that was published by The Mail on Sunday.”
In the final paragraph of his judgement, Justice Warby also left the door open that parts of the case he has struck out could be “revived if they are put in proper form.”
He wrote: “I do not consider that the allegations struck out on that basis go to the “heart” of the case, which at its core concerns the publication of five articles disclosing the words of, and information drawn from, the letter written by the claimant to her father in August 2018. Some aspects of the case that I have struck out at this stage may be revived if they are put in proper form.”
No date has yet been set for the hearing to begin.