A week ago, the Duchess of Sussex filed a legal response to a request made by the Daily Mail as part of her ongoing lawsuit against the media outlet. The part of Meghan’s response which got the most attention was where she said, on the record, that her friends spoke anonymously to People Magazine because they were “rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself.” This was regarding the now-infamous February 2019 People Mag cover story where, among other revelations, the news about Meghan’s letter to her father was revealed.
As I said in my coverage, the Daily Mail’s lawyers seem to want to make all of this into a referendum about whether Meghan authorized her friends to speak to People Mag. When really, Meghan’s lawsuit is about how the Mail – with the implicit and explicit help of the “institution” i.e. the palace – bullied her, smeared her and published her handwritten letter to her father. Anyway, a detail was buried last week, which is that Meghan somehow had to reveal, to the Daily Mail, the names of her friends who went to People Mag. Now the Mail wants to publish those names and Meghan is seeking a court order to prevent that.
The Duchess of Sussex is seeking a court order to prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from publicising the names of five friends who could be witnesses in an ongoing legal dispute, according to a court filing. In the latest twist in the high-profile dispute, the Duchess is seeking a High Court injunction stopping the newspaper from publishing the names of the five women who spoke anonymously to the US media in her defence last year. The women’s names are on unpublished court papers in the legal battle, which Meghan insists are “confidential” and should not be made public.
“Associated Newspapers, the owner of The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, is threatening to publish the names of five women – five private citizens – who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a U.S. media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behaviour of Britain’s tabloid media”, she wrote in the legal submission disclosed this morning.
“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.”
“Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy. Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.
“The Mail on Sunday is playing a media game with real lives. “I respectfully ask the court to treat this legal matter with the sensitivity it deserves, and to prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from breaking precedent and abusing the legal process by identifying these anonymous individuals – a privilege that these newspapers in fact rely upon to protect their own unnamed sources.”
[From The Guardian & The Evening Standard]
What I find hard to understand is why Meghan had to reveal the names in the first place? If her argument is that her friends did this without her knowledge and without her explicit permission, and she only knew about it after the fact, then why are their identities relevant to the case? That’s what I don’t get – it’s not like People Magazine would have revealed the names of their sources, so why did Meghan? I’m not blaming her, I just don’t get the legal argument for why Meghan had to name them at all. Maybe this is all some next-level strategy at play, who knows – the fact that she cites the fact that the Mail relies on “their own unnamed sources” leads me to believe that there is something else at play as well. Meghan has long tried to protect her friends too – I believe that was one of the reasons why she and Harry didn’t reveal the name of Archie’s godparents, because they were trying to protect their friends from tabloid harassment.
(BTW, I’ve always believed that Serena Williams was one of the friends who spoke to People Magazine, and if Serena gets “outed” by the Daily Mail, it will be funny as hell to see the British tabloids try to come for the GOAT. Serena will NOT play.)
Photos courtesy of WENN.
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