Meghan Markle is going toe-to-toe with one of Britain’s biggest tabloids for invading her privacy. The Duchess of Sussex is set for a virtual “Strike Out Hearing” with Associated Newspapers, the parent company of Mail on Sunday. At the center of Meghan’s case against them is a private letter she wrote to her dad, Thomas Markle.
The letter was published without Meghan’s consent, which breaches copyright laws in the UK. Meghan also claims the letter was edited and manipulated to support malicious claims about her made by this and other British tabloids. As part of Meghan’s legal response, a 33-page document detailing mistruths published by the paper was released.
There are many interesting moments in the duchess’s public life featured in the document. Some of the most intriguing surround her and Prince Harry’s 2018 wedding and the debacle between the couple and Thomas. Press claims indicated that Meghan’s fury at her father for posing for the paparazzi led her to cut him off without a word, even after he suffered a heart attack.
The court documents provide Harry and Meghan’s side of the story. “I’ve been reaching out to you all weekend but you’re not taking any of our calls or replying to any texts,” she wrote in one text.
“Very concerned about your health and safety and have taken every measure to protect you but not sure what more we can do if you don’t respond…Do you need help? Can we send the security team down again? I’m very sorry to hear you’re in the hospital but need you to please get in touch with us… What hospital are you at?”
Kensington Palace aides had previously offered Thomas support when paparazzi began targeting his home in Mexico. He refused, however, and he refused to answer Meghan after it all started going down in public.
“Harry and I made a decision earlier today and are dispatching the same security guys you turned away this weekend to be a presence on the ground to make sure you’re safe,” she sent him 10 minutes after the previous text.
“They will be there at your disposal as soon as you need them. Please please call as soon as you can.. all of this is incredibly concerning but your health is most important.”
Harry followed up with Thomas via text with details, but Thomas declined. “While Mr. Markle responded later that evening to say that he appreciated the offer but did not feel in danger and would instead recover at a motel, the Claimant [Meghan] responded 10 minutes later to make a further request for the hospital details so that she would know where he was,” the documents read.
“The Claimant [Meghan] will refer to the fact that the Defendant’s [Mail on Sunday’s] description of this exchange intentionally omits any reference to the Claimant or her husband attempting to protect Mr. Markle and ensure that he was safe.”
While Meghan tried getting Thomas on the phone, Harry tried via text. “Tom, it’s Harry, please answer your phone,” Harry wrote. “I need to know this is actually you because it doesn’t sound like you at all.”
With no answer, he later tried again. “Tom, Harry again! Really need to speak to u,” he wrote.
“U do not need to apologize, we understand the circumstances but ‘going public’ will only make the situation worse.”
“If u love Meg and want to make it right please call me as there are two other options which don’t involve u having to speak to the media, who incidentally created this whole situation,” he continued.
“So please call me so I can explain. Meg and I are not angry, we just need to speak to u. Thanks.”
“Oh any speaking to the press WILL backfire, trust me Tom. Only we can help u, as we have been trying from day 1,” Harry concluded.
Thomas didn’t contact the couple but then went to TMZ with news of his hospitalization, according to documents.
The documents also claim the last attempt at contact between Meghan and Thomas was on the morning of the royal wedding. She missed a call from him at 4:57 a.m. The documents claim she hasn’t had a missed call or text from him since.
Mail on Sunday has stood by its reporting, based on information provided by Thomas. It argues that he had a “legitimate right to reply” after Meghan allegedly allowed friends to defend her in an article for People in February 2019.
Meghan’s camp refutes that she authorized anyone to say anything, claiming she was “distressed” when the information went public.
Meghan’s legal team also raises claims by Thomas that he was manipulated into a nine-hour interview with Mail on Sunday in July 2018. In reply to Meghan’s leaked letter, Thomas allegedly wrote her.
“He [the reporter] said a few things I said in confidence, but 85% were lies and [expletive]!” the documents quote him as writing.
“I called him and told him he was a thief, a liar, and a coward and I would GET EVEN! … I didn’t want or intend to give him an interview and I certainly would not do nine hours for free!”
Harry and Meghan made headlines earlier that week for their letter denouncing and refusing to work with The Sun, Daily Mail, Mirror, and Express or journalists associated with those publications unless it was through attorneys.
“What [the duke and duchess] won’t do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion,” the letter read.
“It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print—even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much-needed industry is degraded.”
“There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society,” it continued.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know—as well as complete strangers—have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.”
“With that said, please note that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.”
They emphasized that this was about fair reporting, not reporting that favors them. “This policy is not about avoiding criticism,” the letter noted.
“It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie.”