Meghan's attempt to keep her friends' identities secret in her battle with the Mail on Sunday

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle
The court case centres on a letter Meghan sent to her father before her wedding to Prince Harry. Credit: PA

The Duchess of Sussex’s legal team is back in the High Court in her continuing fight with the Mail on Sunday.

Meghan 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.

 The Mail on Sunday wants to publish the names of five of Meghan’s friends who spoke anonymously to the US magazine, People, in 2019, in order to defend the then pregnant Meghan against attacks in some of the tabloid press.

 It is the second pre-trial hearing in this case as Meghan seeks “to protect the privacy and confidentiality rights of the five female friends” who gave the interviews.

 Previously a judge struck out Meghan’s other claims that she was subjected to a deliberate campaign of negative reporting by the Mail on Sunday.

 On Wednesday, the Duchess is arguing that her friends “have not waived their right to anonymity - quite the contrary”.

But the newspaper argues that their interviews to People magazine is central to this case because one of them - known only in the public documents as “Friend B” - referred to the existence of Meghan’s letter in the course of her interview. 

Meghan argues the letter she sent to her father was private and should not have been published. Credit: AP

The Mail on Sunday maintains that following the People magazine interviews ”neither the existence nor the contents of the Letter were confidential”.

 Friend B arranged the interviews with the magazine and the four other women as she was a good friend of People’s editor.

 But Meghan insists she had no knowledge of the interviews in advance and would not have condoned them if she had been aware.

Her lawyers told Mr Justice Warby in Court 38 of the High Court today that she “had no knowledge in advance that any reference would be made to the letter still less any knowledge that the interview was going to take place".

The names of the five friends are in the private section of the court documents - and the Mail on Sunday is seeking to have them named in the public documents.

But the Duchess’ legal team argues: “The fact that the Claimant has named the friends in a Confidential Schedule … does not entitle the media to treat their names as publicly reportable.”

Meghan's friends said they carried out the interview as they were worried about her. Credit: AP

Meghan’s lawyers say that forcing her to disclose their identities would be “an unacceptable price to pay for the right to pursue her claim for invasion of privacy” against the newspaper.

Her friends did the magazine interviews, according to the court documents, because they were worried about her mental health at a time when she was pregnant with Archie and “vulnerable”.

Her legal team even referenced articles on the Mail’s own website in which it referred to the friends’ People magazine interviews as “anonymous”.

Earlier this month, the Mail on Sunday’s solicitors told the Duchess’ lawyers that they regarded the names of the friends as being “properly reportable by the media”.

No date has been set for this trial but if it does reach that stage it is possible that Meghan’s father will have to give evidence against his daughter.

 The newspaper maintains it was acting in the public interest as Meghan was - at that time - a senior working member of the Royal Family in receipt of public funds.