ENTERTAINMENT
16/01/2020 8:07 AM AEDT

Meghan Markle's Father Could Testify Against Her In Mail On Sunday Legal Battle

The Duchess of Sussex is taking legal action against the paper after it published a letter she wrote to her father.

Meghan Markle’s father could testify against her in her legal battle with the Mail on Sunday, it has been revealed. 

The newspaper – and its parent company Associated Newspapers – are accused of unlawfully publishing a letter from the Duchess of Sussex to her father, Thomas Markle. 

But the Mail on Sunday will argue the move was justified because there is a “huge and legitimate” public interest in the “personal relationships” of the royal family. 

Meanwhile, legal documents – seen by the PA news agency – show that the newspaper will rely on evidence from Thomas Markle, including that he had “a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened between himself and his daughter, including the contents of the letter”. 

It means that, if the case goes to court, Meghan and her father could be called to testify against one another. 

The news comes as Meghan was spotted in public for the first time since returning to Canada after she and Prince Harry announced their plans to step back as senior members of the royal family. 

On Tuesday, the duchess visited a women’s centre in Vancouver to “discuss issues affecting women in the community”. 

Why is Meghan Markle taking legal action against the Mail on Sunday?  

PA Wire/PA Images
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 

In February 2019, 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.”

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

In October 2019, law firm Schillings – which is representing Meghan – filed a High Court claim against the paper alleging misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Speaking at the time, Harry claimed the alleged unlawful publication of the private letter was done in “an intentionally destructive manner” to “manipulate” readers.

PA Wire/PA Images
Meghan Markle's father could testify against her in her legal battle against the Mail on Sunday 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Schillings claimed the “intrusive” publication of the letter was part of Associated Newspapers’ 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.

Meanwhile, in its legal defence – as seen by PA – the newspaper claims the duchess “did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so”.

The paper also argues the publication of the letter was in response to a “one-sided” article in People Magazine in February 2019 featuring an interview with five unnamed “close friends” of the duchess which referenced the letter, meaning its existence was in the public domain.

What is the latest with Harry and Meghan and their role in the royal family? 

PA Wire/PA Images
There was a summit at Sandringham about Harry and Meghan's future in the royal family on Monday 

News that Thomas Markle could testify against his daughter comes just two days after members of the royal family held a summit at Sandringham about Harry and Meghan. 

It comes after the couple last week revealed plans to step back as “senior members” of the royal family and become “financially independent”. 

While it had been reported that Meghan would join the meeting by video call from Canada, it later emerged that Prince Harry put forward their case on his own. 

The Queen has now agreed to allow Harry and Meghan to withdraw from their royal duties 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.

The move has raised questions over the costs of the couple’s security during their time in north America and who would foot the bill.

Harry and Meghan’s personal website had originally said that the couple are classified as “internationally protected people, which mandates this level of security”. 

However, The Times revealed on Wednesday, this claim was deleted the next day after questions were raised over the amount of security the couple could expect if they weren’t performing royal duties.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the costs, and what role they will play in Canadian life, would be the subject of future discussions.