LONDON (AP) – The Duchess of Sussex has apologized for misleading a British court over the extent of her collaboration with the authors of a sympathetic book about her and Prince Harry.
Former Meghan Markle, 40, is involved in a lawsuit in London over a British newspaper publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her 2018 marriage to Harry, a granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II.
She sued the publisher of Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline website for invasion of privacy and copyright. A Supreme Court judge ruled in her favor in February, saying the publication of the letter Meghan wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, was “obviously excessive and therefore illegal.”
Publisher Associated Newspapers seeks to overturn that decision by the Court of Appeal. The publisher claims that Meghan wrote the letter knowing that it could be published, and published private information by collaborating with Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, the authors of “Finding Freedom”.
The Duchess’s lawyers have previously denied that she or Harry collaborated with the authors. But the couple’s former communications director, Jason Knauf, said as evidence before the court that he provided the authors with information and discussed it with Harry and Meghan.
In a testimony, Knauf said the book was “discussed directly with the Duchess several times in person and by e-mail.” Emails released as part of Knauf’s statement showed that he also sent an email to Harry to discuss the book and say he would meet the authors.
Knauf said that Harry replied: “I completely agree that we should be able to say that we had nothing to do with it. Likewise, you would give them the right context and background to bring out some truths.”
In a testimony released Wednesday, Meghan accepted, “that Mr. Knauf provided some information to the authors of the book, and that he did so, to the best of my knowledge, to a meeting he planned with the authors in his capacity as communicator. Secretary . ” She added that “the extent of the information he shared is unknown to me.”
The Duchess said she did not remember the discussions with Knauf when she testified earlier in the case, “and I apologize to the court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.”
“I had absolutely no desire or intention to mislead the defendant or the court,” she said.
The Associated Newspapers say Knauf’s evidence also undermines Meghan’s claim that she did not intend the letter to be seen by anyone other than her father.
In his testimony, Knauf said the Duchess “asked me to review the text of the letter and said” obviously everything I have prepared is with the understanding that it could be leaked. “
Knauf said Meghan asked if she should address her father in the letter as “father,” adding that “in the unfortunate event that it leaked, it would pull at the heartstrings.”
In her own written evidence, Meghan said she had not thought her father “would sell or leak the letter, primarily because it would not put him in a good light.”
“To be clear, I did not want any of it to be published, and I wanted to make sure that the risk of it being manipulated or misleadingly edited was minimized if it were to be exploited,” she said.
Meghan’s lawyers told the appellate court on Thursday that if she had wanted to make the letter to her father publicly available, the “Finding Freedom” book would have been the “perfect opportunity” to do so.
To defend the newspaper, attorney Andrew Caldecott also argued that Thomas Markle had the right to publicly deny misleading allegations about his relationship with Meghan, who appeared in an interview with People magazine in 2019 with five of her close friends.
“Thomas Markle has been royally attacked in People magazine … and this is his answer,” he said.
The appeal continues Thursday for three senior judges. A verdict is expected at a later date.
Meghan, a former star of the American TV legal drama “Suits”, married Harry at Windsor Castle in May 2018.
The couple announced in early 2020 that they were leaving royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.
They have settled in Santa Barbara, California, with their two young children.