6 May 2021CopyrightMuireann Bolger

Meghan Markle wins again in Mail On Sunday copyright dispute

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has secured another victory in her copyright claim against the publisher of the Mail On Sunday over the publication of a handwritten letter to her estranged father.

The latest decision was handed down by Justice Mark Warby on Wednesday, May 5, and held that Markle was the sole owner of the disputed copyright of the letter.

The Duchess sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) last year over news reports which featured parts of a handwritten letter sent to Thomas Markle in August 2018.

According to Markle, the reports contained private information, infringed her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.

In February, the High Court handed the Duchess summary judgment on most of her copyright claim.

At the remote hearing on Wednesday, Lord Justice Warby granted summary judgment in relation to the remaining parts of the duchess’ claim, dismissing ANL’s argument that Markle did not own the entire copyright of the letter.

ANL had held that an ex-communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Jason Knauf, was a co-author of the letter, which means that it was covered by Crown copyright and that Markle could not sue.

‘Crown not copyright owner’

But Knauf informed the High Court that he “emphatically” denied being a co-author and  lawyers representing the Queen” told Markle’s solicitors they “did not consider the Crown to be the copyright owner”.

Ian Mill QC, acting on behalf of the Duchess, said: “This unequivocal statement of Mr Knauf’s position also gives the lie to the defendant’s inferential case, in its defence to both the privacy and copyright claims, that the claimant considered using the letter ‘as part of a media strategy’.”

He said Meghan “shared a draft” of the letter with her husband, Prince Harry, and Knauf “for support, as this was a deeply painful process that they had lived through with her”.

The court heard how Knauf “suggested that a reference to Mr Markle’s ill-health be included”, but that he did not “suggest any specific wording”.

Mill requested summary judgment in relation to the remaining parts of Meghan’s copyright claim,  on the grounds that ANL’s case regarding the ownership of copyright in the letter “has been shown to be completely baseless”.

The court heard how ANL did not oppose summary judgment being granted, but the publisher “does not consent to summary judgment because its appeal against summary judgment in the copyright claim remains live”.

‘Shadowland between improbability and unreality’

In the summary judgment ruling in February, Lord Justice Warby said ANL’s publication of Meghan’s letter to her father was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful”.

He also said ANL’s arguments on ownership of the copyright of the letter “seem to me to occupy the shadowland between improbability and unreality”.

In March, the court ordered the publisher to print a statement on the front page of the Mail On Sunday and a notice on page three of the paper stating it infringed Markle’s copyright by publishing parts of the letter.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories sent like this straight to your inbox

Today’s top stories

Biden backs TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

Protecting theatrical works in South Africa

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

20 February 2020   Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ‘Sussex Royal’ brand is reportedly under threat, and one stumbling block could come in the form of the UK’s law covering use of the term ‘royal’ in trademarks.
2 October 2019   Meghan Markle has taken legal action against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over the publication of a private letter.
2 December 2021   The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has won another battle in her ongoing copyright and privacy dispute with the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the MailOnline over the leaking of a personal letter to her father.