Meghan Markle scored a big win in the latest round of her nearly three-year legal battle against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online over the publication of a handwritten letter she penned to her father, Thomas Markle. After a hearing Wednesday, the High Court in London ruled Markle was the sole copyright holder of the letter she sent to her father in August 2018, PEOPLE reports, shortly after her high-profile wedding to Prince Harry.
While Associated Newspapers Limited's attorneys previously former Kensington Palace communications chief Jason Knauf was a partial copyright owner of the letter as he had seen an early draft of the letter and played a role in its final version, they dropped that argument Wednesday after learning Knauf "emphatically" denied any part in writing the letter. "Mr. Knauf did not draft, and has never claimed to have drafted, any parts of the electronic draft or the letter," Markle's attorneys wrote in new court documents, sharing that she wrote the letter first on her iPhone "around the first week of August 2018."
The Duchess of Sussex did share the early draft with her husband and Knauf for "support," they continued, as this was a "deeply painful process" they had been a part of alongside her and Knauf was responsible for keeping senior royal family members informed about "public-facing issues." Associated Newspapers lawyer Andrew Caldecott said in a written submission that it was a "matter of regret" to the publisher that Knauf had not previously clarified his role in drafting the letter, saying that they "swiftly recognized the impact" of the new information and would not oppose the judgment.
Markle first sued Associated Newspapers in September 2019 for publishing excerpts of the private latter to her father in a number of articles both online and in print, and in February scored a major win when the judge ruled that she had "a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private," and that "The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation." In March, Markle was awarded $625,000 in legal costs over her privacy and copyright infringement claim against Associated Newspapers as part of a larger judgment that orders the publishing group to pay 90% of Meghan's estimated $1.88 million legal expenses for the case. Thursday, the judge added to this number, ordering the Mail to pay the remaining 10% of the royal's court costs.