Judge allows UK tabloid to delay front page statement after Duchess Meghan’s court win

By ZOE MAGEE and KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News

(LONDON) — A U.K. tabloid in a legal battle with Duchess Meghan has been allowed a delay in printing a front-page statement on the duchess’ legal victory.

High Court Justice Mark Warby on Monday granted Associated Newspapers’ Ltd. (ANL), the publisher of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, a stay until April 9 as the publisher continues to appeal the order.

Warby also agreed to a reduction in font size as requested by ANL and said the Mail Online only needs to run the statement on the website for seven days, rather than six months. The statement on Duchess Meghan’s legal victory also only has to stay on the Mail Online’s homepage for one day and can be moved to the news section for the remainder of the time, according to Warby.

Earlier this month, Warby had ruled that the Mail on Sunday must publish “on a single occasion” the following statement on its front page, “The Duchess of Sussex wins her legal case for copyright infringement against Associated Newspapers for articles published in The Mail on Sunday and posted on Mail Online – see page 3”.

Then on page three, an additional notice will read, “Following a hearing on 10-20 January 2021, the Court has given judgment for The Duchess of Sussex on her claim for copyright infringement. The Court found that Associated Newspapers infringed her copyright by publishing extracts of her handwritten letter to her father in The Mail on Sunday and in Mail Online. There will be a trial of the remedies to which the Duchess is entitled, at which the court will decide whether the Duchess is the exclusive owner of copyright in all parts of the letter, or whether any other person owns a share.”

Warby also ordered Mail Online to run the same notice for one week, with this additional language, hyperlinked to the judgment and summary, “The full judgment and the Court’s summary of it can be found here.”

Warby ruled last month that the Mail on Sunday invaded Meghan’s privacy by publishing large parts of the personal letter she sent to her now-estranged father Thomas Markle before her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.

Warby denied a request on March 3 by ANL to appeal his ruling. He did acknowledge though that ANL could still attempt an appeal in the Court of Appeal, according to the U.K. Press Association (PA) reporter in court.

The judge also ordered Associated Newspapers’ Ltd. on March 3 to make an “interim payment” of nearly $630,000 of Meghan’s legal costs within two weeks. Meghan’s legal team claimed in court that her legal costs for the lawsuit, which she filed in fall of 2019, have exceeded $2 million, according to the PA reporter in court.

Another hearing will be held in late April or early May to consider possible further “financial remedies” and to consider Meghan’s claim under the Data Protection Act.

Meghan’s 2018 handwritten letter to her father, which addressed the breakdown in their relationship, was reproduced by ANL in five articles in February 2019.

Meghan sued ANL for alleged copyright infringement, misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act.

Meghan, who now lives in California with Harry and their son Archie, did not issue a statement after Monday’s ruling. The duchess, who is expecting her second child, said after the court’s ruling last month that she hopes her case “creates legal precedent.”

“After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanizing practices. These tactics (and those of their sister publications MailOnline and the Daily Mail) are not new; in fact, they’ve been going on for far too long without consequence. For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep,” Meghan said in her statement. “The world needs reliable, fact-checked, high-quality news. What The Mail on Sunday and its partner publications do is the opposite.”

“We all lose when misinformation sells more than truth, when moral exploitation sells more than decency, and when companies create their business model to profit from people’s pain,” she said. “But for today, with this comprehensive win on both privacy and copyright, we have all won. We now know, and hope it creates legal precedent, that you cannot take somebody’s privacy and exploit it in a privacy case, as the defendant has blatantly done over the past two years.”

“I share this victory with each of you—because we all deserve justice and truth, and we all deserve better,” Meghan concluded her statement. “I particularly want to thank my husband, mom, and legal team, and especially Jenny Afia for her unrelenting support throughout this process.”

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