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 established by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Preceding Prince Harry’s accusations by mere days, Meghan Markle is set to sue DMG Media, the owners of The Mail on Sunday, for publishing a hand-written letter sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle. 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, then, is set to take action over the alleged hacking of personal voicemails. This action will be taken in regards to The Sun and The Daily Mirror, 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.
In an emotional statement published on their 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.
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, owned by Rupert Murdoch, 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.
Piers Morgan has been named in litigation as a conspirator, following his initial involvement with phone hacking while editor of the Mirror in the early 2000s.
Commenting on this revelation, Nathan Sparkes, the Policy Manager for ‘Hacked-Off’, which campaigns for justice for phone hacking victims, stated: ‘Piers Morgan’s name has been mentioned repeatedly in phone hacking litigation over the last seven years. The Mirror Group has eventually been forced to admit that phone hacking was rife at the Daily Mirror during the time that Morgan was its editor. Mr Morgan has serious questions to answer about the illegal activity which occurred on his watch.’
The case will be funded privately by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. If damages are won, proceeds will be donated to anti-bullying charities.