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Mail on Sunday defends publishing Meghan Markle’s letter to father

The Mail on Sunday has argued that publishing a letter sent by the Duchess of Sussex to her father Thomas Markle was in the public interest.

Meghan is suing the newspaper and its parent company Associated Newspapers over alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

But, according to court documents quoted by the BBC, the weekly paper claims Meghan and other members of the royal family “rely on publicity about themselves and their lives to maintain the privileged positions they hold”.

The action was launched by the Duchess, who is in the process of stepping down as a senior royal alongside Prince Harry, in October. 

Law firm Schillings, representing the Duchess, filed the High Court claim against the paper and its parent company. The Mail on Sunday rejects all claims. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex want to stand down from the roles as senior royals(PA Wire/PA Images)

In its legal defence, the paper claims the duchess “did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so”, according to the BBC.

The Mail on Sunday also argued the publication of the letter was lawful because there is a “legitimate public interest” in the “conduct and standards” of royals extending to their personal and family relationships.

It comes as the Queen agreed Harry and Meghan could step back as senior royals  and begin a “new life” as an “independent” family.

Buckingham Palace also confirmed the Sussexes would begin a “transition period” in which they would split their time between the UK and Canada, where the Duchess is currently with their son Archie.

In February, the Mail on Sunday published extracts of Meghan’s handwritten letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle.

In one extract, published by the newspaper, the Duchess wrote: “Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces .

“Not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand.”

Mr Markle was caught up in controversy in the build-up to the 2018 wedding after he allegedly staged paparazzi photographs of himself and then began commenting regularly to entertainment website TMZ about his contact with his daughter.

When the legal action was announced in October, Harry claimed the alleged unlawful publication of the private letter was done in “an intentionally destructive manner” to “manipulate” readers.

In a statement released at the time, a spokeswoman for law firm Schillings claimed the “intrusive” publication of the letter was part of Associated Newspaper’s campaign to write “false and deliberately derogatory stories about” Meghan, “as well as her husband”.

But the Mail on Sunday said it would stand by the story and denied editing the letter to change its meaning.

Additional reporting by Press Association. 

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