'Humiliating': Meghan has no chance of winning after losing round one of her battle against tabloid, say experts
The Duchess of Sussex is suing the Associated Newspapers over publication of a letter she wrote to her father
Meghan Markle suffered a setback in her legal battle against the Mail on Sunday after a judge struck out numerous allegations she had made against the publication's journalists.
The Duchess of Sussex, 38, had filed a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of Mail On Sunday and Mail Online, over a February 2019 article which had reproduced parts of a handwritten note she had sent to her father in August 2018.
Her legal team, led by celebrity lawyer David Sherborne, had accused the journalists of "dishonesty", stirring up controversy between her and her father, and maliciously pursuing an agenda to portray her in a false and "negative light".
However, in a ruling, Justice Warby ruled in the favor of Associated Newspapers and said the claims she had made would not be admissible in court as they were "irrelevant."
"I do not consider the allegations in question go to the heart of the case," he said. "Some of the allegations are struck out as irrelevant to the purpose for which they are pleaded. Some are struck out on the further or alternative ground that they are inadequately detailed."
"I have also acted so as to confine the case to what is reasonably necessary and proportionate for the purpose of doing justice between these parties."
Legal experts have said that the ruling is an "absolute victory" for the Mail while it's is a "disaster" and "humiliation" for Meghan.
"For Meghan, this judgment is like a train plowing into a petrol tanker on a level crossing," said Mark Stephens, a partner at Howard Kennedy. "It is a complete disaster. She’s been humiliated today."
He added that, after other senior lawyers had gone over her claim, they concluded "there was no chance of her winning," and that she was either "poorly advised" or had disregarded warnings because she wanted her day in court.
"She would be well advised to settle and walk away," he continued. "If it goes to trial the evidence of Meghan and her father Thomas about the letter and their rift would be examined under oath. If she is going to be humiliated in person there will be no worse outcome for her."
The case stems from the former actress's claims that her father's decision to go public with her letter had breached her privacy, copyright, and data protection rights.
The ruling today means the trial will now focus on whether Meghan had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter considering five of her closest friends had briefed People magazine about its contents before the Mail published it.
The Duchess of Sussex had previously branded her father a liar and denied she had known her friends had planned to reveal details of her deteriorating relationship with him and her handwritten letter to him.
Thomas Markle, on the other hand, had said he only shared the letter with the press after its contents were misrepresented and he was 'vilified' in the People article.
"I have to defend myself. I only released parts of the letter because other parts were so painful. The letter didn't seem loving to me. I found it hurtful," he said.
The trial will also look at whether publishing parts of the letter were in the public interest and allowed under freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
A full trial in late 2020 or early 2021 might see Meghan and her father come face-to-face for the first time in more than two years, and will likely involve them providing evidence against each other.