Four former employees of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could have evidence shedding light on the circumstances of Meghan’s letter to her estranged father, the High Court heard.
Any role of the so-called “Palace Four” required further investigation and was one of the reasons the Duchess had launched a full trial against Mail on Sunday for privacy, the newspaper’s publishers claimed.
Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) for publishing excerpts from her private letter to Thomas Markle, 76, published in February 2019 in five articles in Mail on Sunday and Mail Online.
Her lawyers are asking for a “short verdict” to resolve part of her privacy case without a trial, arguing that the judge, Mr. Justice Warby, should find in her favor, as the ANL has no real chance of success.
On the second day of the hearing, Antony White QC told ANL that “oral evidence and documentary evidence are likely to be available at the trial to shed light on some key factors in the case.”
One issue was the circumstances in which the letter was drafted, “which we now know was the Kensington Palace communications team, an unusual feature of a completely private letter,” he told the judge.
The ANL claims that Meghan intended to use the letter as part of a “media strategy,” which the Duchess denied.
White said the letter from lawyers representing “Palace Four” indicated they would be able to “light up” the draft. Four are Jason Knauf, the then secretary of communications for the royal couple, whom the ANL believes was “involved” in the text of the letter; former communications staff members Christian Jones and Sara Latham; and former private secretary Samantha Cohen.
A letter from lawyers on behalf of the Quartet sent to the legal groups of both parties states that neither of them welcomes involvement in the case, which arose solely as a result of duties at their posts in real time. “Also, none of our clients want to participate in a dispute between your clients. All our customers are completely neutral, “it is written.
“They have no interest in helping any party to the proceedings. Their only interest is to ensure a level playing field as far as any evidence they can give is concerned. “But they would help the court if they could,” it said.
The letter went on to say that the prior opinion of their attorneys was “that one or more of our clients could shed light on” the creation of the letter and the electronic draft.
It could also shed light on “whether the plaintiff anticipated that the letter would go public,” and whether Meghan “provided private data directly or indirectly to the authors of the couple’s unauthorized biography”. , The search for freedom.
Justin Rushbrooke QC for Meghan said in written submissions that the letter from the so-called Four Palace does not contain any information to support ANL’s claims that Knauf is a co-author of that letter at the center of the dispute. Meghan’s example is that Knauf sent feedback on the draft but not the text.
Rushbrooke said the claim that there could be “hypothetical” evidence of former palace staff is not enough to start the trial and that Meghan’s letter is “self-evident” private. “If such a letter is not seemingly private, confidential and deeply personal, it is difficult to understand what kind of letter it could be,” he said. Having the test “to beat the obvious” was “simply surreal”.
He added that there was no evidence that the letter was part of a “media strategy”.
Meghan is seeking damages from ANL for alleged misuse of private data, copyright infringement, and data protection violations.
Mr Justice Warby has upheld the verdict and will announce his verdict later.