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Meghan, the Mail and me – what the Duchess of Sussex’s court case means for your privacy

Date posted: 19 February 2021

James Elliott, the Head of our Public Law Department, looks at the implications of the latest round of Meghan Markle’s fight with the Daily Mail for us, whether we are celebrities or not.

 

Some time ago the Daily Mail published a letter Meghan Markle had sent to her father.

 

It was a very personal letter by a very public figure.

 

Its publication caused the Duchess a lot of distress and maybe irreparably damaged her relationship with her father.

 

The public were fascinated. The Mail believed that it was justified in printing the letter. Meghan did not and sued.

 

The court gave its judgment on 11 February.

 

The judge looked at whether the Mail’s defence had any merit. He largely found it did not.

 

The Duchess had claimed that the publication of her letter was an unlawful ‘misuse of private information.’  The Mail had argued that because she was such a public figure it was not.

 

The court disagreed with the Mail and said that because the letter was personal and intended only for her father Meghan had an expectation it would not be public, regardless of how famous she was.

 

The Court also agreed with the Duchess that the publication was a breach of copyright because Meghan was the author of the letter.

 

What does this mean for ordinary people?

 

It means that if another person, the media, company or public body publishes something of yours that is private you may very well have a claim for compensation.

 

If it’s a public body (e.g. the police, NHS, local council) then you may also have a claim for a breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act ( the right to a private life) or under the Data Protection Act.

 

The law is not just for the famous. At Wilsons we believe in justice for all.

 

So if you have suffered from a breach of your privacy, and want advice on what you can do about it, do get in touch with us.

 

Funding your case

 

Legal aid is available (subject to your means and having a good case) for claims against public bodies and we can assist on a privately funded basis in other claims. If your case does not qualify for legal aid we would suggest an initial no obligation one hour fixed fee diagnostic consultation. The consultation can be in person, by phone, Zoom or Skype, or by exchange of email.

 

The cost of a private initial diagnostic consultation is; £200 – £250 with a partner or

£165 with an assistant solicitor

 

Next steps

 

If you wish to have a consultation contact Penny on 020 885 7924 for an appointment to see James or another solicitor in the public law team (or complete our online contact form if you prefer).