Partner and Head of Reputation Protection Emma Woollcott spoke on BBC News about the interim ruling in the Duchess of Sussex's privacy case against Associated Newspapers.
Commenting on the decision, Emma said:
The core of the Duchess' claim is that her handwritten letter to her father was private and confidential, given that it contained her most personal thoughts and feelings. She argues that there was no public interest in its publication, and also that the Mail published the letter dishonestly, in bad faith, and with the sole and entirely gratuitous purpose of satisfying the curiosity of its significant readership about her private life. As part of the allegation of "dishonesty", Meghan complained that – whilst the Mail said that it was publishing the "full content" of the85 five-page letter – almost half of her letter had been omitted, and that the omissions demonstrate her kindness and concern about the UK tabloid media exploiting her father.
Associated Newspapers denied that its reporting of the letter was dishonest. It applied to have this and other elements of the claim struck out. The Judge agreed that these elements were irrelevant in law, and ruled that it would be disproportionate to the litigate them as part of the case.
This may be claimed as a victory for the media, but this is just the first hearing of a legal battle which looks set to run for some time. Notwithstanding that the courts have been digitally transformed in the past few weeks and are working hard to continue to administer justice during the Covid-19 interruption, it is likely that the substantive hearing of the privacy case will not be before the court until the end of next year.