Meghan Markle to get initial $627,000 costs from tabloid privacy lawsuit

Meghan Markle may claim $627,000 in costs from the tabloid newspaper that published her letter to her father—with more money to be paid further down the line, a judge ruled.

The Duchess of Sussex sued the Mail on Sunday for publishing a letter pleading with her father to stop talking to the media.

She won an emphatic victory last month on privacy and a ruling the move infringed her copyright—though the publisher may lodge an appeal.

Meghan wants damages based on the newspaper’s profits and was given permission to seek an account of these.

The High Court, in London, also ruled the newspaper should print a notice to its readers announcing Meghan had won the case.

Meghan Markle takes part in a public walkabout at the Sydney Opera House on October 16, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. She has been given an initial $627,000 of costs from the Mail on Sunday over her privacy lawsuit.
Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty

Lawyers for the duchess asked for a statement on the front page with a further clarification on page four, though the judge indicated his final ruling would likely fall short of her request.

On the first round of costs, Judge Mark Warby ruled: “£450,000 [$627,000] is about as generous as the claimant could expect in all the circumstances.”

While Meghan has won a ruling that the newspaper breached her privacy and infringed her copyright, the case is not over.

A trial is scheduled for October to determine whether Meghan alone holds the copyright to the letter, in order to determine what level of damages she should expect.

The final figure for overall costs in the case is yet to be calculated.

Warby added the full amount “may be considerably more than” the initial sum awarded and acknowledged his figure may seem “a little mean” compared to what the duchess asked for.

Meghan’s lawyers had claimed the case as a whole cost a little under $2.1 million (£1.5 million).

A court filing read: “In all the circumstances, it is submitted that an interim payment on account of almost 50 percent of those costs, in the sum of £750,000, should be ordered to be paid by the Defendant within 14 days, with the remainder of the Claimant’s costs to be subject to detailed assessment if not agreed.”

The £750,000 was reduced to £450,000 by the judge, while the remainder of the money to be paid will be calculated at a later date.

The Mail on Sunday asked the court for permission to appeal but the request was rejected by Warby, who noted they still have the right to apply direct to the Court of Appeal.

In an emotional letter sent in August, 2018, Meghan begged her father to stop talking to the media and expressed her emotions about the breakdown of their relationship.

In a court filing, Meghan’s lawyers said of the letter: “It is a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father (the word ‘pain’ or ‘painful’ appears no fewer than five times), begging him to stop talking to the press.

“It is as good an example as one could find of a letter that any person of ordinary sensibilities would not want to be disclosed to third parties, let alone in a mass media publication, in a sensational context and to serve the commercial purposes of the newspaper.”

The case saw Meghan forced to defend the right to anonymity of five young mothers who defended her to People magazine after the newspaper applied for their names to be disclosed.

Private messages from her and husband Prince Harry to Thomas Markle on the days surrounding a heart attack her father suffered just before her wedding were also released through the court case.

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