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The Duchess of Sussex’s father is reportedly prepared to testify against her claim that a newspaper unlawfully published one of her private letters to him.
Thomas Markle’s evidence forms part of the Mail on Sunday’s defence against Meghan’s allegation of breach of privacy, copyright and data protection, documents filed at the High Court on Tuesday revealed.
This means that should the case go to trial, both Meghan and her father could be called to testify against one another, with the paper’s sister publication the Daily Mail reporting that Mr Markle would be prepared to face her in court.
The developments came a day after the Queen confirmed in statement that Harry and the duchess would be stepping back as senior members of the royal family.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Getty Images)
The Mail on Sunday will argue there is a huge public interest in the personal relationships of members of the royal family as part of the paper’s defence against the duchess’s legal claim.
The High Court documents suggest the paper will claim Meghan and other royals “rely on publicity about themselves and their lives to maintain the privileged positions they hold”.
They disclose text messages sent from Mr Markle to Meghan and show the breakdown of their relationship in the build-up to her wedding to Prince Harry, according to the Telegraph.
The duchess launched legal action against the newspaper in October over an allegation it unlawfully published a letter to her father.
Law firm Schillings, representing the duchess, filed a High Court claim against the paper and its parent company Associated Newspapers over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
But in its legal defence the paper claims the duchess “did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so”, according to the BBC.
In the documents, the Mail on Sunday also argued the publication of the letter was lawful because there is a “legitimate public interest” in the “conduct and standards” of royals extending to their personal and family relationships.
It comes just 24 hours after the Queen agreed Harry and Meghan could step back as senior royals and begin a “new life” as an “independent” family.
Buckingham Palace also confirmed the Sussexes would begin a “transition period” in which they would split their time between the UK and Canada, where the Duchess is currently with their son Archie.
Queen announces ‘period of transition’ for Harry and Meghan
In February, the Mail on Sunday published extracts of Meghan’s handwritten letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
In one extract, published by the newspaper, the duchess wrote: “Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces – not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand.”
Mr Markle was caught up in controversy in the build-up to the 2018 wedding after he allegedly staged paparazzi photographs of himself and then began commenting regularly to entertainment website TMZ about his contact with his daughter.
When the legal action was announced in October, Harry claimed the alleged unlawful publication of the private letter was done in “an intentionally destructive manner” to “manipulate” readers.
In a statement released at the time, a spokeswoman for law firm Schillings claimed the “intrusive” publication of the letter was part of Associated Newspaper’s campaign to write “false and deliberately derogatory stories about” Meghan, “as well as her husband”.
But the Mail on Sunday said it would stand by the story and denied editing the letter to change its meaning.
Meanwhile, it was revealed on Tuesday the duchess did not join the royal summit with the Queen and senior royals by phone and instead relied on her husband to put forward their case.
The move has raised questions over the costs of the couple’s security during their time in North America and who would foot the bill.
Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said the costs, and what role they will play in Canadian life, would be the subject of future discussions.
Additional reporting by the Press Association