Meghan pleads for friends' 'right to privacy' in High Court statement - read it in full

Meghan says she is seeking to protect the privacy of her friends. Credit: PA

Meghan's legal team is trying to stop five of her friends, who did magazine interviews because they were worried about her mental health when she was pregnant with Archie and "vulnerable", from being named by the Mail on Sunday.

The Duchess of Sussex's legal team has told the High Court that forcing the Duchess of Sussex to do so would be “an unacceptable price to pay” for pursuing her legal action against the Mail on Sunday.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of a handwritten letter sent by her to her father Thomas Markle in August 2018.

ANL’s lawyers are resisting the application to keep the identities of Meghan’s friends secret, claiming the duchess’s friends brought the letter into the public domain when it was referred to for the first time in the People interview.

Here is the full witness statement by the Duchess of Sussex submitted to the High Court in support of her bid to keep the identities of five friends private in reports of her privacy claim against ANL.

The trial has been pushed back. Credit: PA

The statement says:

“I confirm that save where otherwise appears, the facts stated in this witness statement are within my own knowledge and that those facts are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

"Where facts are not within my own knowledge, I confirm that they are true to the best of my information and belief and the source of that information is set out.

“I make this witness statement in support of my application that a non-party may not access the confidential schedule without first applying to the court on notice to my solicitors, and that the information contained in the confidential schedule must not be used by the defendant for any purpose except for that of these proceedings.

“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 US media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behaviour of Britain’s tabloid media.

“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.

The Dutchess of Sussex is suing the paper’s owners, Associated Newspapers, for breach of privacy, copyright and data protection after it published a private letter she had written to her father, Thomas Markle.