Meghan Markle’s high-stakes privacy case has been delayed until next October after a secret hearing at London’s High Court.
Meghan’s legal team cited a ‘confidential ground’ for the adjournment at a hearing with no further details made public.
Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline for breach of privacy for publishing extracts of a letter she sent her father Thomas Markle after her royal wedding in 2018.
The case was originally scheduled to be heard next January and was set to last for ten days.
Meghan Markle’s privacy case against Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline has been delayed until October after a secret hearing at the High Court
Meghan, 39, is suing for breach of privacy for publishing extracts of a letter she sent her 76-year-old father Thomas Markle (pictured) after her royal wedding in 2018
However, a private hearing was held at the High Court this morning where the judge agreed to delay the trial after her application.
On Wednesday a court order revealed by the Press Association said that part of Meghan’s applications today would be heard in private ‘in order to protect the confidentiality of some of the facts put in evidence’. No further details were given.
Mr Justice Warby today said he had considered the request and granted the delay until autumn next year – adding the ‘primary basis’ on which the adjournment was sought was ‘confidential’.
He said: ‘The right decision in all the circumstances is to grant the application to adjourn. ‘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.’
The ten-month adjournment formed part of a flurry of legal moves by Meghan’s lawyers ahead of a preliminary hearing today.
Meghan’s lawyers were today granted a ten-month delay until October next year at a private ‘confidentiality ground’ hearing held in secret ‘to protect the confidentiality of some of the facts put in evidence’
They want a judge to determine her case without having a full trial at all, meaning she would not enter the witness box at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The judge said he will hear the duchess’s summary judgement application to have her case heard without a full trial on January 12.
She lost an application to appeal against a ruling that brings the gushing royal biography Finding Freedom into the case.
Last month, she lost a bid to block the book from being relied on by the Mail on Sunday.
Meghan lost an application to have claims she co-operated with the authors of the royal biography Finding Freedom thrown out
The newspaper’s lawyers argued that she co-operated with the authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, to set out a version of events that was favourable to her. The duchess denies collaborating with the authors.
Lawyers for the newspaper have claimed at a previous pre-trial hearing that it was ‘difficult to see’ how Meghan could complain about extracts of the letter to her estranged father being published when she and Harry had helped with ‘Finding Freedom,’ which exposed their private thoughts and feelings.
The duchess, who has missed the court’s deadline to serve an updated ‘reply’ to the newspaper’s defence, is also seeking to extend the deadline.
A document submitted to the court by the newspaper’s lawyers reported that she had breached a court order for missing the October 21 deadline. She now has until November 13 to submit her re-amended reply.
The lawyers said: ‘No or no good explanation has been given for this state of affairs.’
Meghan’s lawyers have asked the High Court for disclosure of evidence, such as emails and texts between her and her friends to be delayed until next August.
The newspaper’s lawyers accuse Meghan of feeding personal information to Omid Scobie (left) and Carolyn Durand (right), the writers of ‘Finding Freedom,’ to ‘set out her own version of events in a way that is favourable to her
Both sides in the case have a duty to disclose relevant documents such as messages and emails to the other side.
Meghan was originally given a deadline of 6 November to provide these.
Central to the case is Meghan’s alleged role in authorising five of her best friends, described as her ‘inner circle’, to give an anonymous interview to US magazine People, in which the letter to her father was mentioned.
Meghan’s lawyers have launched a series of a flurry of moves to have the case delayed
Meghan’s lawyers have categorically denied she knew they were giving the magazine the interview.
The newspaper argues she must have known, and wants any messages between Meghan and her friends to be disclosed to the court.
The newspaper also claims she authorised friends to brief the authors of the biography, and is seeking to see any relevant messages the duchess sent or received.
Lawyers for the newspaper said it was ‘difficult to see’ how Meghan could complain about extracts of her letter to her estranged father being published when she and Harry had helped with ‘Finding Freedom,’ which exposed their private thoughts and feelings.
At a preliminary hearing last month, Meghan’s lawyers declared she was prepared to step into the witness box for the trial.
But her new application, if successful, would mean Mr Justice Warby would decide the case without a trial.
Meghan and her estranged father Thomas, who is a witness for the newspaper, were due to face each other in the High Court in January, but this has been postponed until the autumn
He would make up his mind based on written evidence submissions and oral submissions from barristers, without the need for witnesses to take the witness stand.
The newspaper’s lawyers say they do not oppose the adjournment on confidential grounds but rejected any delay to the disclosure of evidence as it could impact their preparations for the case.
The document said: ‘A stay would stop disclosure in its tracks.’