Harry and Meghan ‘didn’t work with’ Finding Freedom authors, High Court hears

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did not collaborate with the authors of their Finding Freedom biography, her lawyer has told the High Court.

The Duchess of Sussex's lawyer Justin Rushbrooke QC insisted the couple had not spoken to the authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Duran.

Meghan, 39, is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online over articles that featured her handwritten letter to her estranged father Thomas Markle, 76, in August 2018.

She claims in doing so Associated Newspapers (ANL) had misused her private information, breached her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.

The case will cost both sides more than £3m in legal fees, court documents say.

At the latest hearing today, ANL sought permission to amend its written defence to argue that Meghan “cooperated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to put out their version of certain events”.

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The Duchess's lawyer in written submissions to the court said: "The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors on the book, nor were they interviewed for it, nor did they provide photographs to the authors for the book."

He added the writers "were not given the impression that the claimant wanted the contents of the letter to be reproduced in the book”.

He said neither Harry nor Meghan had spoken to the authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who Rushbrooke added “were not given the impression that the claimant wanted the contents of the letter to be reproduced in the book”.

Antony White QC, for ANL, said in written submissions that Finding Freedom gave “every appearance of having been written with their [the couple’s] extensive cooperation”.

He said ANL wished to amend its defence to allege Meghan “caused or permitted information to be provided directly or indirectly to, and cooperated with, the authors of [Finding Freedom], including by giving or permitting them to be given information about the letter”.

Court documents have revealed the overall total costs of the legal action for Meghan to be £1,798,043.57, and £1,230,425 for ANL – more than £3m in total.

The judge, Mr Justice Warby, in an earlier preliminary hearing last month ruled in the duchess’s favour by allowing the identities of five friends who spoke anonymously to People magazine in the US to remain protected “for the time being at least”.

The five have been named in confidential court documents.

Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on Mail Online.

The headline on the first MoS article read: “Revealed: the letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”

ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

The trial is due to begin in January and estimated to last between seven and 10 days.

Today's hearing before Judge Francesca Kaye will also deal with applications for further disclosure and directions towards a trial.

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