EXCLUSIVE

ROYAL EXCLUSIVE: Mail on Sunday Using “Litigation Fatigue” to Frustrate Duchess of Sussex in Court – Legal Claims

MEGHAN MARKLE HAS MADE NEW COURT CLAIMS ABOUT THE PUBLISHERS OF THE DAILY MAIL AND MAIL ON SUNDAY – SHE SAYS IT IS:

• STALLING on filing a legal defence to her claim over the publication of a personal letter

• TRYING to hijack civil court rules to ‘re-invade’ her privacy, and;

• PREPARING a drawn-out battle over allegations of wrongdoing, (which it denies)

Extract: part of the latest legal document to be filed at the High Court in the Duchess of Sussex’s claim
Extract: part of the latest legal document to be filed at the High Court in the Duchess of Sussex’s claim

MEGHAN Markle is accusing the Mail on Sunday of using “delaying” tactics to avoid defending itself over its publication of a highly private letter she wrote her father, Byline Investigates can report.

Papers, newly filed by the Duchess of Sussex’s lawyers, claim Associated Newspapers is misapplying High Court procedural rules as “another means of… avoiding or delaying meeting the Claimant’s claim on its merits”.

And last night an expert legal source said Britain’s biggest selling mid-market Sunday tabloid could be aiming to create litigation “fatigue” in the bombshell case.

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Delaying tactics might be desirable if they want to create ‘litigation fatigue’ in their opponent to wear them down

— expert legal source

The source told Byline Investigates: “The idea would be to make it as painful as possible for the Duchess in the hope that she might throw in the towel or settle her claim cheaply.”

Offending article? The  Mail on Sunday  published parts of a letter Meghan Markle sent to her father Thomas
Offending article? The Mail on Sunday published parts of a letter Meghan Markle sent to her father Thomas

The ‘Part 18’ request for more information is the second to be made by the media giant since it was first accused eight weeks ago of breaching the Duchess’s copyright, misusing her private information, and data protection offences – all of which its denies.

In response, the 38-year-old Duchess’s legal team at Schillings LLP, wrote: “The Claimant believes that the Defendant has ample knowledge of her case so as to allow it to plead its Defence to the Particulars of Claim, which were served on 11 October 2019… and that the Defendant should have done so by now.”

Claim The Duchess of Sussex has filed her claim at the High Court in London (inset, The Rolls Building where her case will be heard)
Claim The Duchess of Sussex has filed her claim at the High Court in London (inset, The Rolls Building where her case will be heard)

Explaining the three-page ‘Part 18’ request in greater detail, the legal source added: “It is a dry legal mechanism that can be used to fish for information, or as a tactical device to delay a claim.

“Newspapers often make a decision at the start of a case whether they will settle or fight. If they are going to settle they will usually do so straight away.

“Delaying tactics might be desirable if they want to create ‘litigation fatigue’ in their opponent to wear them down.

“This indicates the Mail on Sunday could be digging in for the long haul and the Duchess will need to steel her resolve and be ready for a proper bust up with the Mail on Sunday, one of the largest and most vicious newspapers in the world.”

Consideration:  Mail on Sunday readers “generally supportive of the monarchy”
Consideration: Mail on Sunday readers “generally supportive of the monarchy”

Another reason for the lag in pleading a defence to the Duchess’s complaints could be the paper’s uncertainty about the reaction of its readership to a protracted Royal legal wrangle.

The source went on: “Or, this could be a delaying tactic so the Mail on Sunday can work out how to frame its defence – whether to be robust and aggressive or more conciliatory.

“There are political considerations for the newspaper and its billionaire owner Lord Rothermere.

“The question facing the Mail on Sunday is whether their tactics will alienate readers, many of whom are likely to be generally supportive of the monarchy.”

Elsewhere in the legal document, which entered the public file on Monday this week, it is also alleged that the Mail on Sunday is trying to hijack civil procedure rules to draw comment on the parts of the disputed private letter it did not publish.

It repeats: “The Claimant is not prepared to allow this request to be used by the Defendant as a vehicle for intruding further into her privacy.”

Exclusive: How we told the story
Exclusive: How we told the story

The document is a follow-up to one Byline Investigates reported on exclusively on November 15, in which the Duchess accused the Mail titles (including the Daily Mail) of waging a three-year fake news campaign against her.

In it, she set out an extensive list of “false” and “absurd” stories and raised serious questions about the honesty of the Mail papers’ journalism.

Among them are articles stating Prince Harry and Meghan Markle bought a £5,000 copper bath, spent £500,000 on soundproofing, and even built an entire new wing of their home – and charged it to taxpayers – when in fact, the documents explain, this was all “completely untrue”.

Commentator: Professor Brian Cathcart
Commentator: Professor Brian Cathcart

The Duchess is also complaining about a “deliberately inflammatory” story that connected her enjoyment of avocado toast to “murder” and “human rights” abuses, and another that linked a community kitchen project she supports to Islamist jihadists.

At the time, media commentator and Professor of Journalism at Kingston University, Brian Cathcart said: “The papers must respond, and if they can’t justify their reporting – in other words, if they can’t show it’s accurate and verified – then the editors of these papers should resign.

“There can be no possible defence for national newspapers waging a war of falsehood of the kind alleged here.”

At 5:31pm on Friday, December 13, 2019, a spokesman for the Mail on Sunday said: “These allegations are nonsense.

“As we have said before, we will be defending this case vigorously. We do not intend to provide a running commentary on it.”

• The case continues…

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