Meghan says 'vicious' Mail on Sunday is trying to name her friends

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle has filed a witness statement in the High Court as part of her legal fight against the newspaper. Credit: PA

The Duchess of Sussex has accused the Mail on Sunday of trying to put her friends’ mental health at risk by threatening to publicly name them.

Meghan has filed a witness statement in the High Court as part of her legal fight against the newspaper.

She accuses the Mail on Sunday’s owners, Associated Newspapers, of wanting to expose five of her friends who spoke up for her in an anonymous interview with People Magazine in 2019.

The Duchess says that publication of their names would be a "vicious" act and would pose "a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing."

A Mail on Sunday spokesman said: "To set the record straight, The Mail on Sunday had absolutely no intention of publishing the identities of the five friends this weekend.

"But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identities should be kept secret. That is why we told the Duchess’s lawyers last week that the question of their confidentiality should be properly considered by the Court."Meghan is suing the newspaper for publishing a private letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, shortly after the royal wedding.

The newspaper has claimed, in its defence, that one of her friends had already referred to the existence of the letter when they spoke, anonymously, to People magazine.

Meghan is suing the Mail on Sunday for the publication of a private letter she sent to her father. Credit: PA

The name of Meghan’s five friends are contained in the confidential section of the legal papers.

Meghan claims the Mail on Sunday’s intention to publish their names is "for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain".

"The Mail on Sunday is playing a media game with real lives," she adds.

Each of her friends, she writes, "is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy."

The identity of the five women, who Meghan says spoke to People magazine without her knowledge or consent, has never been revealed.

The Duchess of Sussex had written the letter to her father three months after her wedding to Harry. Credit: PA/GMB

 In earlier court papers, the Duchess argued that they took their own decisions to defend her in the magazine as they had seen how her mental health was being affected by attacks from the tabloid media, especially when she was pregnant.

"These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial", Meghan said.

Meghan is now asking the High Court to "prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from breaking precedent and abusing the legal process by identifying these anonymous individuals". 

The Mail on Sunday published extracts from a personal letter Meghan wrote to her father following the breakdown in their relationship in the run up to her wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018.

The Duchess is suing Associated Newspapers for breach of privacy, copyright and data protection.

The Mail on Sunday’s owners have denied the claims against them and maintain that the letter was published in the public interest as Meghan was, at the time, a senior member of the Royal Family.