'These five women are not on trial, and nor am I'
Meghan Markle has faced a huge wave of online abuse since joining the royal family, hounded by the press and public alike since day one, with the royal family forced to make multiple unprecedented statements asking for her privacy.
The run-up to the couple’s wedding was overshadowed by Thomas Markle drama and cruel reports of Meghan making Kate Middleton cry, pitting the royal sisters-in-law against each other. And Meghan Markle’s pregnancy was consumed with body shaming abuse and salacious stories that the Duchess was unable to contest.
Since stepping down from their royal roles earlier this year, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have filed a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers Limited, taking action against the ‘bullying’ Meghan faced, with new court documents revealing just how badly her mental health was affected while pregnant.
‘The Claimant had become the subject of a large number of false and damaging articles by the UK tabloid media, specifically by the Defendant, which caused tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health,’ Meghan Markle’s legal team reportedly claim in documents released on June 30.
‘As her friends had never seen her in this state before, they were rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself.’
This relates to five friends of Meghan, who were interviewed by People magazine to speak anonymously in defence of the Duchess – something that Meghan explains that she was not involved with.
Providing a witness statement as part of Thursday’s court filing, Meghan explained, ‘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 behaviour of Britain’s tabloid media.’
Going on to reportedly file an application to ask that the names are kept confidential, she continued: ‘These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. 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.
‘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. The Mail on Sunday is playing a media game with real lives.’
Meghan went on to state: ‘I respectfully ask the court to treat this legal matter with the sensitivity it deserves, and to prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from breaking precedent and abusing the legal process by identifying these anonymous individuals – a privilege that these newspapers in fact rely upon to protect their own unnamed sources.’
This week, it was announced that Meghan had won the legal battle to keep the identity of her friends private ‘for the time being at least’, with the High Court in central London making the ruling.
‘I have concluded that for the time being at least the Court should grant the claimant the orders she seeks, the effect of which will be to confer protection on the sources’ identities,’ read Justice Warby’s ruling. ‘That is confidential information, the protection of which at this stage is necessary in the interests of the administration of justice. This is an interim decision.’
A source from the Sussex couple’s team revealed that it was good news, explaining to Town & Country: ‘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. We are happy that the Judge has agreed to protect these five individuals.’
We will continue to update this story.