Meghan Markle suing British tabloid for publishing private letter

Meghan Markle is suing a British tabloid over the publication of a private letter, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed on Wednesday.

In a statement, published on their website, Prince Harry said Markle had filed a claim against Associated Newspapers over the "misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and beach of Data Protection Act 2018".

The legal action relates to a private letter handwritten by Markle to her estranged father, Thomas, which was published in February in the Mail on Sunday. The fractured father-daughter relationship has been the topic of intense media coverage - especially around the time of the Duke and Duchess getting married.

"We have initiated legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday, and its parent company Associated Newspapers, over the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter written by the Duchess of Sussex, which is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband," a spokesperson for law film Schillings claimed in the statement.

"Given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy, infringement of copyright and the aforementioned media agenda."

The case will be privately funded by the Duke and Duchess, and any proceeds from a court ruling would go to an anti-bullying charity.

In a response cited by ITV, the Mail on Sunday said it stood by the story it published and would be "defending this case vigorously".

"Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning."

Announcing the legal action, the Duke of Sussex invoked his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash being chased by paparazzi.

"My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

He said he and his wife respect "media freedom and objective, truthful reporting", but claimed Markle has become a victim of tabloid press "that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences - a ruthless campagin".

"I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been," he said.

"Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations - something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis."

Prince Harry said he has been a "silent witness to her private suffering for too long" and is over watching media outlets "lie" about her.

He said the letter was published in a way that was "intentionally destructive" to "manipulate" the reader. Harry also claimed paragraphs of the letter were ommitted from publication "to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year".

"There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people."

The Duke said the legal action "may not be the safe [option]" but it was the "right one".

The Guardian reports that Markle had previously threatened the Mail on Sunday with legal action in regard to the letter. While Thomas gave the publication permission to use the letter, the author of the letter retains ownership of the copyright. There are exceptions to copyright, however, for fair use of a portion of the original content, especially when reporting current affairs.

British media have contacted Associated Newspapers for comment.