Meghan Markle May Be Forced to Give Private Texts, Emails, Phone Records in Letter Lawsuit

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are fighting to keep their private lives private, but the former Suits star might be forced to hand some personal information over, including emails, texts and phone records. The Duchess of Sussex is suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing excerpts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle. She claims the paper's publishers violated the U.K. Data Protection Act and breach of contract.

Earlier this month, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex filed two separate lawsuits, one against Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers for "illegal interception of voicemail messages," and another against the Mail's publishers, Associated Newspapers, for releasing excerpts of Markle's letter to Thomas. Harry and Markle said the letter was "published unlawfully." The Mail on Sunday vowed to fight the lawsuit.

"The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously," a Mail spokesperson said. "Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess's letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning."

Last week, The Sun, which is owned by Murdoch, reported that part of the Mail's fight against the lawsuit includes asking for more of Markle's private communications be made available. The Mail believes Markle made the letter public knowledge before it published it after two friends spoke with PEOPLE.

"There will be a duty on both sides to disclose relevant information and documentation, which for Meghan could include her personal communications," a source told the Sun. "If it becomes clear that text messages, emails and phone records were relevant to the case then she would have to provide them to the other side."

The source continued, "The defence lawyers will probably argue any communication she had with friends over the PEOPLE article is relevant."

Back in February, PEOPLE published a cover story mentioning Markle's letter to her father. However, the exact contents of the letter were unknown until the Mail published excerpts from it.

Markle's lawyers filed legal documents calling the letter "obviously private correspondence" that detailed "her intimate thoughts and feelings about her father's health and her relationship with him at that time." They accused the Mail of "deliberately" cutting out parts of the letter to "intentionally" distort or "manipulate" its meaning. They claim if the letter was published in full, it would have "undermined the defendant's intended negative characterisation of the claimant."

"The claimant intended the detailed contents of the letter to be private, and certainly did not expect them to be published to the world at large by a national newspaper, and without any warning," the documents read.

It is believed Thomas is cooperating with the Mail's lawyers, reports the Sun. The Mail wants to call Markle to testify, which is one of the downsides of filing the suit.

"The lawyers will want Meghan in the witness box and she will be open to a cross-examination, which could see many aspects of her family background examined in court," a source told the Sun. "That's the downside of suing in the public domain. She will be under oath so the stakes are very high for her. But if her lawyers were sensible they would have looked through all her communications before making the claim to know what could possibly end up being revealed."

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The lawsuit follows the emotional interview Markle gave in the ITV documentary Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, in which she reflected on how she has handled media scrutiny. Journalist Tom Bradby asked her if she was "not really OK," to which a choked-up Markle replied, "Yes."

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