Meghan Markle has prevailed in the dispute to protect her friends’ identities from being disclosed in the court case- at least for a while. Five of her friends had anonymously spoken to People magazine to defend Markle from what she had called “bullying”.
However, despite the present ruling, Mr. Justice Warby has warned that the names of her friends might be tossed up in the future.
Markle had filed a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers for publishing a “very private and confidential” letter to her father back in 2018. The Royal star is seeking damages for “alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement, and breach of the Data Protection Act.”
The identity of her friends — who were addressed in the court proceedings as A, B, C, D, and E — are known to the judge presiding the case, but it has been decided by the court ruling that their identities are not to be disclosed “for the time being, at least” in the ongoing case against Associated Newspapers.
According to Express, a source said that the Duchess of Sussex is very much keen on protecting the interests of her friends who spoke out in her defense.
The sources said: "The Duchess felt it was necessary to take this step to try and protect her friends - as any of us would - and we're glad this was clear.” They continued, “We are happy that the judge has agreed to protect these five individuals."
The American actress appealed to the court in July to keep her friends’ names hidden in the legal documents. The former Suits actress vouched for her friends by stating that they have their “basic right to privacy.”
As a part of her witness statement, 39-year-old Markle said: "Associated Newspapers, the owner of The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, is threatening to publish the names of five women - five private citizens - who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a US media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behavior of Britain's tabloid media.”
"These five women are not on trial, and nor am I,” said Markle. "The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial.”
"It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case - that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.”
Prince Harry’s wife continued, “Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy.”
"Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing,” she went on. "The Mail on Sunday is playing a media game with real lives."
Markle’s lawyers told the High Court in July that it would be a “cruel irony” if she were asked to reveal the identity of her friends in the interest of the legal case.
"To force the claimant, as the defendant urges this court to do, to disclose their identities to the public at this stage would be to exact an unacceptably high price for pursuing her claim for invasion of privacy against the defendant in respect of its disclosure of the letter,” told Justice Rushbrooke QC, who represents the Duchess in the court case.