The Mail on Sunday must publish a front-page statement about the Duchess of Sussex’s victory in her copyright claim against the publisher, the High Court has ruled.
Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) – the publisher of The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline – has also been ordered to print a notice stating it “infringed her copyright” by publishing parts of a “personal and private” handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
The court had previously ruled in favour of Meghan Markle after she sued ANL over a series of articles that reproduced parts of the letter, claiming misuse of private information, breach of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act.
In a ruling on Friday, Lord Justice Warby granted Meghan a declaration that ANL “misused her private information and infringed her copyright”.
The court’s decision came after ANL’s lawyers applied for permission to appeal against January’s ruling on 10 grounds.
But Lord Justice Warby refused permission to appeal, saying it had “no real prospect” of success and that he “did not consider that there is any real prospect that the Court of Appeal would reach a different conclusion as to the outcome of the claim for misuse of private information, or as to the issues I decided in the copyright claim”.
Instead, ANL was ordered to publish a notice about Meghan’s victory as it would have “genuine utility”.
“The defendant devoted a very considerable amount of space to the infringing articles, which it continued to publish for over two years,” the judge said.
“It has devoted a very considerable number of further column inches, and many hundreds if not thousands of words, to coverage of earlier stages of this litigation and commentary upon them.
“The wording sought is modest by comparison, and factual in nature.
“But I am not persuaded of the case for prolonged publication.”
The Mail on Sunday will have to print “on a single occasion a statement on the front page” which refers readers to a further statement on page three of the newspaper.
The statement will read: “The court has given judgment for the Duchess of Sussex on her claim for copyright infringement.
“The court found that Associated Newspapers infringed her copyright by publishing extracts of her handwritten letter to her father in The Mail on Sunday and in MailOnline.
“There will be a trial of the remedies to which the duchess is entitled, at which the court will decide whether the duchess is the exclusive owner of copyright in all parts of the letter, or whether any other person owns a share.”
The court ruled the front page statement must appear in a font and size “no smaller than appeared the wording ‘Meghan’s shattering letter to her father’ on the front page of The Mail on Sunday dated 10 February 2019”.
The same statement must be also be published on the MailOnline website“ for a period of one week” with a hyperlink to the court’s full judgment.
The judge added: “In my judgment, these are measured incursions into the defendant’s freedom to decide what it publishes and does not publish, that are justified in pursuit of the legitimate aim I have identified, and proportionate to that aim.
“They will involve little if any additional expense, and certainly nothing approaching the scale of the expense that has been lavished on this litigation.”