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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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UK royal Meghan wins copyright case over letter to father

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, on Wednesday (05 May) won her outstanding copyright claim against a British tabloid after London’s High Court heard neither Queen Elizabeth nor a former senior royal aide claimed ownership of a letter she had written to her estranged father.

Meghan, 39, wife of the monarch’s grandson Prince Harry, won a privacy action against the Mail on Sunday in February after it printed parts of the letter she sent to her father Thomas Markle in August 2018.

While she won much of her claim without needing a trial, judge Mark Warby had said the issue of who owned copyright to the letter still needed to be decided because of the possible involvement of senior aides.

The paper had argued the duchess intended the letter’s contents to become public, and that it formed part of a media strategy because she had worked on electronic drafts with her communications secretary Jason Knauf, meaning both he and “the Crown” might have a claim to the copyright.

However, at a remote hearing at London’s High Court on Wednesday, Warby issued a summary judgement in her favour on the copyright issue.

It came after the court was told a law firm whose client was “the Keeper of the Privy Purse acting on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen … did not consider the Crown to be the copyright owner (whether in part or sole) of the Electronic Draft”.

Meghan’s legal team said Knauf confirmed through his lawyers he did not draft the letter and never claimed to have done so.

“In our client’s view, it was the Duchess’s letter alone,” Knauf’s lawyers wrote.

The aide had merely suggested including a reference to Markle’s ill health, Meghan’s lawyer Ian Mill told the court.

Warby, who had initially awarded Meghan 90% of the legal costs relating to his February judgement, also ruled the Mail on Sunday should meet the other 10% as well as further costs relating to the “ownership issue”.

(Production: Helena Williams, Tara Oakes, Ben Dangerfield, Lisa Giles-Keddie)

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