A joint letter from the royal aides, who worked for Harry and Meghan at various times from the start of their relationship in 2016 through to the Sussexes’ departure from the Royal Family in 2020, has been released by the High Court.
The Duchess of Sussex is suing the newspaper for breach of privacy and copyright after it published a “quintessentially private” letter she wrote to her father about the breakdown of their relationship.
Former Private Secretary Samantha Cohen, and three former Communications Secretaries, Jason Knauf, Sara Latham and Christian Jones say they are “willing” to assist the court which “would, if appropriate, include giving oral evidence at trial and/or providing to the parties any relevant documentary evidence."
The former Sussex staff have been referred to in court as ‘the Palace Four’.
The letter has been referred to by the Mail on Sunday’s legal team as it attempts to ensure the case does go to trial later this year.
Meghan is currently applying to the High Court Judge to make a “Summary Judgement” which would, if granted, result in the judge deciding the case on the facts presented so far – and a full trial would not need to go ahead.
Currently a trial date has been scheduled for October 2021.
All four of the former Sussex staffers say they do not “wish to take sides in the dispute” between Meghan and the newspaper.
“Our clients are all strictly neutral”, writes their representative at the legal firm Addleshaw Goddard.
However, the joint letter does state that they are “in a position to assist the Court by giving evidence at trial relevant to any of the issues in dispute”.
The letter does not say which of the four individuals has any relevant evidence but it makes clear that “one or more” of them would “be in a position to shed some light” on three specific issues.
The first is the creation of Meghan’s letter to Thomas Markle and what drafts of it she shared with her press team.
The second is the issue of whether Meghan anticipated or wanted her private letter to end up in the public domain as part of a longer term media strategy.
And finally, whether or not Meghan helped the authors of the recently published Finding Freedom biography by giving them private information, directly or indirectly.
Anthony White QC, who is representing the Mail on Sunday’s owners, Associated Newspapers, argued that the letter from Harry and Meghan’s former aides show why a trial is necessary, otherwise a great deal of facts and information would not get to be considered.
The Mail on Sunday argues that the case is “wholly unsuitable for summary judgment” and that Meghan’s argument’s “in respect of certain important factual issues has shifted” as the case has progressed.
The newspapers lawyers said Meghan had given a “confusing and tortuous account of the genesis of the Letter and her subsequent communications about its existence”.
Samantha Cohen has now left the Royal Household. Christian Jones is currently the Acting Private Secretary for Prince William, but is departing soon. Jason Knauf works for William and Kate’s Royal Foundation charity. And Sara Latham has a role at Buckingham Palace connected to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
Listen to our royal podcast