The Mail on Sunday editors have agreed to pay “financial recourse” to the Duchess of Sussex, three years after she began a long battle for privacy over a handwritten letter to her ex-father.
On Sunday, the newspaper printed a statement at the bottom of its front page telling readers that the Duchess had won her copyright infringement case against Associated Newspapers for articles published in the Mail on Sunday and published on Mail Online.
On page three, he published a 64-word report stating that he had infringed copyright and that “financial remedies have been agreed”. The story was also posted to the Mail Online website at 11:58 p.m. on Christmas Day with links to the court judgments.
The Duchess sued Associated Newspapers over five articles reproducing excerpts from a “personal and private” letter to Thomas Markle in August 2018. She won her case earlier this year when High Court Judge Lord Justice Warby handed down a summary judgment in his favor without the need for a trial.
Associated Newspapers appealed on the grounds that the case should have been tried. That appeal was dismissed earlier this month by Court of Appeal judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean.
They ruled that the Duchess had a “reasonable expectation” of confidentiality regarding the contents of the letter. “This content was personal, private and not of legitimate public interest,” Vos said.
Afterwards, the Duchess called for an overhaul of the tabloid industry and explained how patient she had been in the face of “deception, intimidation and calculated attacks.”
In her statement, she said: “This is a victory not only for me, but for all those who have ever been afraid to stand up for what is right. While this victory sets a precedent, what matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel and profits from the lies and the pain they create.
“From day one, I treated this trial as an important measure of good versus evil. The accused treated it like a game without rules. The longer they hung around, the more they could distort the facts and manipulate the audience (even during the call itself), making a simple case extraordinarily convoluted in order to generate more headlines and sell more newspapers – a model that rewards the chaos above the truth.
“For almost three years since this began, I have shown patience in the face of deception, intimidation and calculated attacks. Today the courts ruled in my favor – again – by confirming that the Mail on Sunday, owned by Lord Jonathan Rothermere, broke the law. The courts have held the accused to account and I hope we all start to do the same. Because as far away as it sounds from your personal life, it isn’t.
“Tomorrow it could be you.” These harmful practices don’t happen once in a blue moon – they are a daily failure that divides us, and we all deserve better.
Associated Newspapers said at the time that it was “very disappointed” with the decision and that an appeal to the Supreme Court was under consideration.
The Duchess’s costs had been estimated at £ 1.5million before the appeal but that figure will have increased with the appeal.
The publication of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online statement was commissioned by Lord Justice Warby earlier this year. In March, he agreed the font size could be smaller than requested by the Duchess.
Representatives for Associated Newspapers and the Duchess of Sussex have been contacted for comment.