London (CNN) – Now that the Duchess of Sussex’s photograph is on the pages of many UK newspapers this week, you would have been forgiven for thinking that you somehow traveled back in time to 2019.
In a reminder of Meghan’s point of greatest media coverage, this week saw the latest fight in her two-year legal battle against the editor of The Mail on Sunday.
To jog your memory: The Duchess filed a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) in 2019 for publishing excerpts from a “private” letter she had sent the previous year to her estranged father Thomas Markle. She seeks payment of damages for misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. The UK High Court ruled in favor of Meghan earlier this year , issuing a summary judgment, thus avoiding a full trial. Now the ANL is challenging the February ruling in the UK Court of Appeal, saying the litigation should have gone to trial, according to British news agency PA Media.
The furor erupted this week when revelations in court appeared to undermine some of the arguments previously made by Meghan’s attorneys.
Former Meghan and Harry Communications Secretary Jason Knauf said in a witness statement released Wednesday that the Duchess wrote the message to her father with the anticipation that it might leak, PA reported.
PA reported that Knauf stated in writing that he exchanged correspondence with the Duchess in which they discussed a first draft of the letter and that Meghan had replied: “Obviously, all I wrote is with the understanding that it could leak, so I chose the words meticulously, but please let me know if there is anything that catches your attention that could represent a drag. “
Knauf, pictured above, was Communications Secretary for the Sussexes until March 2019 and now works for William and Kate as executive director of their Royal Foundation.
Meghan responded to the claims in her own written statement and rejected the argument that she believed her father would leak the letter, saying that he “simply acknowledged that it was a possibility.”
The duchess said the goal behind writing the letter to her father, after consulting with two unidentified senior members of the royal family, was to urge him to stop engaging with the media. “To be clear, I did not want any of this to be published, and I wanted to make sure that the risk of it being manipulated or misleadingly edited was minimized, should it be leaked,” the Duchess reported.
Meghan also apologized for forgetting the emails she had exchanged with Knauf about a briefing he gave to the authors of an unauthorized biography about her and Prince Harry, after he disclosed his knowledge in his statement. The Sussexes had previously repeatedly denied collaborating with Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand on their book “Finding Freedom.”
Critics argue that the apology affects the couple’s credibility in their fight for privacy in the face of the press and their public battle against disinformation, and the revelations inevitably made headlines. The tabloids pounced on the slightest hint of apparent royal impropriety with scathing headlines like “Forgetful Little Miss” and “Sorry, I forgot.”
However, CNN royal historian and expert Kate Williams said she did not believe the events were particularly damaging and that this was unlikely to stick on people’s consciences in the UK. “I think a lot of people probably find this quite legal, technical discussions, so I don’t think it’s damaging.”
He added: “The fact is, Meghan said that she asked her secretary to inform the perpetrators, but she forgot about it and did not mislead the court. It was something that she forgot in the general discussions they had about dealing with the media”.
British lawyer and women’s rights activist Shola Mos-Shogbamimu argued that Meghan’s apology would not have affected the sentence earlier in the year, as the case centers on whether the ANL violated her privacy by printing the letter. Mos-Shogbamimu said in a post on Twitter that the Duchess was right to apologize, “but remember that she won the case on its merits.”
“Whether or not she approved the context through Knauf for ‘Finding Freedom’ would not have made any difference for the Court to grant her the victory over privacy,” Mos-Shogbamimu wrote.
Nick Goldstone head of dispute resolution at the international law firm Ince told CNN that any repercussions of Meghan’s statement on the apology “all depend on the attitude of the court and the importance of the error, the context of that error in the scheme. general of the case and the scope of any apology. “
Whether the events constitute a turning point in the case is ultimately up to the judges of the court of appeal, who must later pass judgment.
“The appellate court has a wide margin of maneuver,” Goldstone said, noting that the original decision was made without the case going to trial. “Therefore, the appellate court could refer the case for further trial or dismiss the appeal,” he said, adding that it could even make a completely different decision.