One small victory for Meghan Markle. The 39-year-old’s 10-day trial against the Associated Newspapers — which publishes the Mail on Sunday — was supposed to start on January 11 in London, but a judge agreed to delay the trial for almost a year.
On Thursday, October 29, during a private hearing that was held at the High Court, Judge Justice Warby considered Markle’s request and said the new date will be in the fall of 2021. Warby said that his ruling was based on "confidential grounds" after Markle's legal team submitted paperwork that morning.
"The right decision in all the circumstances is to grant the application to adjourn,” Warby said. "That means that the trial date of January 11, 2021, will be vacated and the trial will be refixed for a new date in the autumn.
"Hearings in private are an exception. It was necessary to hear that part of the evidence in private as a way to protect privacy and the administration of justice," he added.
Markle is suing Associated Newspapers after they published a private letter she sent to her estranged father in August 2018.
In September, Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) alleged that Markle had leaked information about herself to Finding Freedom authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. Even though her lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke, denied the allegations, the judges are allowing the defense to use the tell-all book during the trial.
Markle’s representative, Jane Phillips, told Warby that the "new case ought not to have been allowed," adding, "it was speculative, it was unsubstantiated by evidence and it was inherently implausible and, we say most importantly, it was bad in law."
Phillips added that the new case was "not only a stab in the dark, but it was a stab in the dark in the wrong room."
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However, Warby ruled in favor of Associated Newspapers, saying that the information in the biography was "relevant" to the case. "If there is a trial she (Markle) will have the benefit of the evidence of one of the authors at least," Warby added. "She will (also) be able to give evidence herself.”
Markle's legal team also requested that the whole case be decided by a judge instead of participating in a full trial, which is also known as a summary judgement in the U.K. The reason for this is so that Markle won't have to go against her father in a London courtroom. At the moment, Warby cannot make a decision yet since the paperwork had just been submitted by her attorneys. The summary judgment application will be heard in court from January 12-13.
While the Suits alum is certainly happy, her dad, Thomas Markle Sr., 76, is less than pleased.
Thomas explained that he wanted the trial done "as quickly as possible" due to his declining health and wants to travel to London for the trial.
"I am a realist and I could die tomorrow," Thomas said to the court, adding that his family usually doesn’t make it past 80 years old. "The sooner this case takes place the better."
"I am 76-years-old and as a result of my heart condition and surgery I am on blood thinners which have had an effect on my breathing. I am unable to walk far or up many stairs," he said. "I can't manage to take more than 30 to 40 steps without getting winded and needing to slow down until I have caught my breath."