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Saturday 14 December 2019

Meghan sues Mail on Sunday as 'relentless' coverage takes its toll

Meghan Markle visits ActionAid International in Johannesburg. Photo: Mark Large/Daily Mail
Meghan Markle visits ActionAid International in Johannesburg. Photo: Mark Large/Daily Mail
Meghan Markle visits ActionAid International in Johannesburg. Photo: Mark Large/Pool via Reuters

Meghan Markle has started legal action against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over an allegation it unlawfully published one of her private letters.

As she was visiting a school to learn about a local charity working to tackle sexual violence in schools, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Meghan filed a High Court claim against the paper and its parent company Associated Newspapers through law firm Schillings.

The claim is over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

A spokeswoman for Schillings claimed the "intrusive" publication of the letter was part of the media group's campaign to write "false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband".

Propaganda

In a highly personal statement yesterday, Harry said the royal couple had been driven to take legal action after "painful" impact of "relentless propaganda" against his wife from the British tabloid press.

Referencing press coverage of his mother Princess Diana, Harry said his "deepest fear is history repeating itself".

He wrote: "I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.

"I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

Depending on the court ruling, proceeds from any damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.

In his statement, Harry said he and Meghan believed in "media freedom and objective, truthful reporting" as a "cornerstone of democracy".

He added: "Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences - a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.

"There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face - as so many of you can relate to - I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.

"Because in today's digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day's coverage is no longer tomorrow's chip-paper."

Harry said the couple, who are currently on a royal tour of Southern Africa, had been unable to correct "continual misrepresentations" in the press.

He said "positive" coverage of the tour exposed "the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave.

"She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you've seen on this Africa tour.

"For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start.

"I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.

"Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn't acceptable, at any level.

"We won't and can't believe in a world where there is no accountability for this."

The Mail on Sunday has been approached for comment.

In Johannesburg, Meghan said empowering women through education could be transformational for communities.

She spoke of how "deeply important and meaningful" the issue of education was for her.

Changes

"When a woman is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community and starting an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that," Meghan said

"Education, I think higher education specifically, is such a key element for growth, economic growth but also personal growth and development."

Later, she was greeted with flowers and a hug when she visited a charity.

Meghan carried out the solo engagement at ActionAid in South Africa to discuss gender-based violence.

Eight-year-old Luyanda, who presented the duchess with a large bouquet, gave a curtsy before wrapping her arms around the royal's waist.

A thrilled Meghan crouched down to receive pictures of "love" - hearts, clouds and a cross - drawn for her by Luyanda.

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