Lawsuit Document Review! Meghan v. Associated Newspapers

You know when you’re having a relaxing weekend at home on the couch and you think to yourself, “I should read through the court documents related to Meghan Markle’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail”??? No? Just me? Okay.

Well, luckily for you, I read through the public court documents so I could see if there were any tidbits I didn’t know about (there were!). Here are some nuggets from the court case up til now.

The whole lawsuit centres around a letter that Meghan sent to her father, Thomas Markle. Let’s go back to the start on this one. I’ll try to sum it up as quickly as I can.

When Harry and Meghan announced their engagement, photos of Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, surfaced. They were photos of him in various spots in Mexico, in the town in which he lives. These photos showed him getting fitted for a tux, reading a book about England, and the like.

Anyone who’s ever seen a photograph knows these were staged. Thomas was in on it and got a cut of the photos that showed up in the British tabloids. The news of him cooperating with the Daily Mail to get these pictures into the tabloids and be paid a tidy sum of money came out about a week before Meghan and Harry’s wedding in May 2018.

THEN, after this story about Thomas being paid came out, Thomas gave an interview to TMZ saying that he had had a heart attack and wasn’t going to be able to fly to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in Windsor.

This was not ideal. It was only a few days before the wedding, and Thomas’s name was listed in the wedding programs to walk his daughter down the aisle. The programs had already been printed! But Harry asked his father, Prince Charles, to walk Meghan down the aisle, to which he said, “Anything she needs.” High five to Prince Charles, that is a very lovely and generous thing to do for his new daughter in law.

Thomas Markle stayed in Mexico, recovering from his alleged heart attack. The wedding went on as planned. The feeling about it in Windsor was that it was very sad that Meghan’s father would do this, and very sad that he couldn’t make it, but that overall, things had gone swimmingly.

Fast forward! It’s now February 2019. People Magazine puts out an edition with this cover:

In this People Magazine article, five of Meghan’s closest friends describe her mental state after the wedding and during her pregnancy in late 2018/early 2019. All five friends are anonymous, though People Magazine states that they are characterized as “a close confidante, a one-time co-star, a long-time friend, a friend from LA, and a one-time colleague.” We still don’t officially know who these women are, though through digging I have pretty much verified the five women in question. That should probably be its own post. Anyway!

One of the friends mentioned in the People article that Meghan’s relationship with her father was basically non-existent after her wedding, but that she had poured her heart out to him in a handwritten letter after the wedding and that he hadn’t even responded. Sad stuff.

Having read this in the People article, a staff member from the Daily Mail, a UK tabloid (the one that paid Thomas for the staged photos before the wedding) flew to Mexico to ask Thomas if he had, in fact, received the letter mentioned in the article. Thomas had, and he was happy to make copies and let the Daily Mail publish contents of the letter (Thomas Markle is a bad dad).

The Daily Mail published several stories on the letter, and even included a photograph of part of the first page of it.

In October of 2019, Meghan sued the Daily Mail’s parent company, Associated Newspapers, for publishing contents of the letter she wrote to her father. Her argument was that it should never have been published, given that:

  1. As it is a document she wrote, she owns the copyright to the letter and would not have allowed it to be published had the newspaper asked;
  2. Even though she is a public figure, this has nothing to do with her public life, so it is not appropriate for people to have an interest in it; and
  3. That the Daily Mail had editorialized the letter and her relationship with her father to say nasty things about her.

Meghan is suing for unspecified aggravated damages.

The Daily Mail’s response was:

  1. She’s a member of the British royal family who lives in a taxpayer-funded house, so this is of public interest even if she thinks it isn’t;
  2. Thomas Markle, the person to whom the letter was sent, gave copies of the letter to us of his own volition;
  3. She has no jurisdiction to sue us for “saying mean things”; and, most importantly,
  4. The letter was already known to the public because MEGHAN’S FRIENDS TOLD US ALL ABOUT IT IN A PUFF PIECE ABOUT HER and those friends would NOT have spoken to People without Meghan’s consent.

There have been several requests and revisions prior to the actual start of the court case. Meghan’s argument that the DM had used language and omitted parts of the letter to portray her in a negative light was thrown out. However, Meghan did win the right to keep her five friends’ names anonymous for now.

The first court response filing from the judge, from May, basically tells Meghan that she can’t argue that “these people are really mean to me” because we can’t judge one particular journalist’s personal feelings or motivations to write an article, let alone a whole office of journalists. It also narrowed the scope of the lawsuit somewhat (because Meghan had mentioned other articles that painted her in a negative light, and going through all of those would have made the trial much longer).

The second court response filing from the judge, filed in September, tells us a few new things!

  • We can pretty much say with 100% confidence that one of the anonymous People Magazine friends, listed in court paperwork as “Friend B”, is Jessica Mulroney. We can tell this because she’s the one of the five who seems to have been in contact with Meghan on an almost daily basis, and she is the one who reached out to People Mag to come up with a way to rehab Meghan’s image (my words, obviously, not theirs.)
Information from the court filing on how the People article came to be and confirmation that the five anonymous friends are all mothers.
  • “Friend B”/Jessica Mulroney has given two witness statements in this lawsuit so far (and would have to take the stand under oath if it goes to trial. She argued that she needs her name to be confidential because she doesn’t want to be seen as benefiting from her friendship with Meghan. In a VERY funny turn, the lawyer for Associated Newspapers referenced NUMEROUS articles connecting “Friend B”/Jessica Mulroney to Meghan Markle and indicating how much fame she has received from this friendship, and how she doesn’t seem to mind the spotlight when it suits her. We don’t know how many articles she referred to, but “Friend B”/Jessica Mulroney’s response to that assertion was 45 paragraphs(!!!).
  • “Friend A” is the person who told People Magazine about the letter.
  • Meghan says that the fact that she has a publicly funded house and security is almost irrelevant since her wedding generated A BILLION DOLLARS for UK tourism. (This number is not based in fact and since this came out it has been ridiculed.)
  • The judge also slaps Meghan on the wrist and basically tells her “I know you’re briefing members of the press about this lawsuit to try to make yourself look better.” The language the judge uses is that Meghan’s people have been “energetically briefing the media about these proceedings from the outset.” This judge is hilarious and I like the cut of his jib.

Well alrighty then, Justice Warby!!!!

That’s it for now. The actual in-person trial is in London and is scheduled for January 11, which means that Meghan will have to travel back to the UK to testify. Also possibly testifying: Meghan’s dad Thomas, Omid Scobie, and anonymous Friends A-E. Will keep you posted!

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