Markle letter to dad published to ‘set record straight’

Thomas Markle wanted a newspaper to help him “set the record straight” on his relationship with his daughter and approved the publication of extracts from a letter, the High Court in London has heard.

Meghan Markle, titled the Duchess of Sussex since her marriage to British royal Prince Harry, is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, over a series of articles which reproduced parts of a handwritten letter sent to her father in August 2018.

Mr Markle, 76, believed events relating to their relationship and communications between them had been “seriously misrepresented” in an article published by People magazine in February 2019, according to Edward Verity, editor of the Mail On Sunday.

At a hearing before Mr Justice Warby which began on Tuesday, the duchess is applying for summary judgment in her favour, a legal step which would see parts of the case resolved without a trial.

In a witness statement before the court, Mr Verity said that after the People magazine article, based on information provided by a number of the duchess’s friends, was published, the Mail On Sunday’s Los Angeles-based reporter, Caroline Graham, discussed it with Mr Markle.

Mr Verity alleged: “It emerged that he (Mr Markle) considered the events described in the People article leading to the breakdown of his relationship with the claimant, including their correspondence after the wedding, had been very seriously misrepresented.”

Mr Verity claimed this was for a number of reasons, including Mr Markle’s view that a description of the contents of Meghan’s letter to him was “false”.

And also that Mr Markle believed events leading up to Meghan’s wedding to the Duke of Sussex “had been described entirely from the claimant’s point of view and in a way Mr Markle believed was very unfair to him”.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of judge Mr Justice Warby today

Mr Verity’s statement said: “For all these reasons, Mr Markle wanted Caroline to help him to set the record straight about what had actually happened.

“In order to tell Caroline his story he provided her with a copy of the letter the claimant [Meghan Markle] had sent him.

“He did not want the whole letter published because he thought it made his daughter look terrible, but he wanted to show people that what they might have read in People magazine was inaccurate and unfair to him.

“He also provided information as to the various ways in which the People article, and the claimant’s letter to him, in his view contained false information.”

Mr Verity said he was satisfied that there were “good reasons” to publish the story.

He claimed: “It seemed clear to me from the letter that its tone and contents had been misrepresented by People magazine in a way that was unfair to Tom [Markle] and was partial to the claimant and which therefore distorted the truth about what the claimant had written to her father.”

He said he believed that what Mr Markle had said was “credible” and Mr Markle “was entitled to correct the record and it was right to give him an opportunity to do so”.

Mr Verity’s statement said that he was “very clear in my own mind” that it was “absolutely vital” to quote from the letter.

The hearing was adjourned to resume tomorrow morning.