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Tabloid wins initial battle in privacy action by UK’s Duchess Meghan

London’s High Court on Friday threw out part of a claim brought by Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, against a tabloid newspaper for breaching her privacy, ruling that it had not acted dishonestly.

Meghan, wife of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry, is suing publisher Associated Newspapers over articles its Mail on Sunday newspaper printed last year which included parts of a letter she had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

At a hearing last week, the paper’s lawyer argued that allegations it had acted dishonestly, had stoked the family rift and conducted an agenda against the Duchess of Sussex by publishing offensive, false stories, should not be included.

“I agree that all three categories of allegation should be struck out of the Particulars of Claim,” judge Mark Warby said in his ruling.

He said some of the issues were irrelevant, not properly detailed or disproportionate for the purposes of the case.

Since their star-studded wedding in May 2018, relations between some media and Meghan and Harry, who are now living in the Los Angeles area having stepped down from their royal roles at the end of March, have become increasingly hostile.

Last week, the couple announced they would have “zero engagement” with four of Britain’s top tabloids, including the tabloid’s sister paper the Daily Mail, accusing them of false and invasive coverage.

The privacy case centres on articles published by theMail on Sunday in February 2019 about the rift between Meghan and her father.

Aggravated damages

Markle pulled out days before the wedding after undergoing heart surgery and following news he had staged photos with a paparazzi photographer. Speculation about his attendance dominated the build-up to the ceremony and he has not spoken to Meghan since.

Lawyers for the duchess say the publication of her letter, which she wrote in August 2018, was a misuse of private information and breached her copyright. They are seeking aggravated damages.

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