By Jude Whiley-Morton.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have this month launched respective lawsuits against the owners of UK tabloid papers. The Sun, The Daily Mirror and The Mail on Sunday are all included in lawsuits with separate accusations from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Meghan Markle also announced that she is suing DMG Media, the owners of The Mail on Sunday, for breach of copyright – publishing a hand-written letter sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle – as well as misuse of private information, and breach of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to copyright law, authors of letters retain ownership of the document even after the object is in the physical possession of another individual. While the paper has published multiple personal stories about Meghan Markle, often in regards to her father, this is the first instance in which legal action has been taken.
Prince Harry has taken action over the alleged hacking of personal voicemails. This action will be taken in regards to The Sun, The Daily Mirror, and The News of the World, presumably dating back to the phone hacking scandal of the early 2000s, from which figures such as Hugh Grant, Paul McCartney, and JK Rowling were also targeted.
A spokesman for The Mail on Sunday stated that the paper stood by its right to publish Markle’s letters, and would fight the case “vigorously”. While a spokesman for News Group Newspapers – who own The Sun, and used to own the News of the World, stated: “We confirm that a claim has been issued by the Duke of Sussex. We have no further comment to make at the current time.” No comment has been made by Reach plc, the owners of the The Mirror.
After the Duchess’ action was taken, an emotional statement was published on the royal couple’s website. The Duke stated that while the couple believe in ‘media freedom and objective, truthful reporting…’, they do not agree with ‘a press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences’.
Referring to the latent rise in fake news, The Duke illustrated that ‘in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.’ The Duke’s statement referred to the media obsession with Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, who was killed when her car crashed following a pursuit by the paparazzi in 1997. He said ‘my deepest fear is history repeating itself’ before thanking the public for their support.
The case will be funded privately by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They say that they will donate any damages awarded to anti-bullying charities.