12:00 GMT15 August 2020
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    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seeking damages from Associated Newspapers for “misuse of private information” in relation to several articles published in the Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online in February 2019. The couple - better known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - have recently moved to California.

    Lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex are asking a judge in London to prohibit publication of the personal details of five of her friends who condemned bullying she received from the UK press.

    Last year the five spoke anonymously to People magazine in the United State and criticised her treatment by Fleet Street.

    ​The 38-year-old duchess - former US actress Meghan Markle - is suing Associated Newspapers over an article published in the Mail on Sunday and online which quoted portions of a handwritten letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, after she married Prince Harry in 2018.

    The duchess is seeking damages for misuse of private information, copyright infringement and data protection breaches. Associated Newspapers is defending the claim in the High Court in London.

    On Wednesday, 29 July, the judge, Mr Justice Mark Warby, was asked to consider an application by her lawyers forbidding the publication of her friends’ names.

    ​In a witness statement the duchess said: "Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy. These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial. It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case - that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.''

    ​The newspaper's lawyers say the friends' evidence "is at the heart of the case'' because they mentioned the letter in the People magazine article and their identities should be known.

    Justin Rushbrooke, counsel for the duchess, said the court had a duty to "protect the identity of confidential journalistic sources.''

    He said the anonymous interviews were arranged by one of the five friends, who was worried about the duchess, who was pregnant at the time.

    Mr Rushbrooke - who acted for singer Sir Cliff Richard when he successfully sued the BBC for an invasion of privacy - said she did not know People magazine was writing an article and “had no knowledge in advance that any reference would be made to the letter.''

    Tags:
    mail online, people, Prince Harry, Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle
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