Duchess of Sussex suing the Daily Mail group – what does it mean?

The Duchess of Sussex has moved to start proceedings in The High Court against The Mail on Sunday, over a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. The lawsuit is for misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of GDPR regulations under the Data Protection Act 2018.

For many of us, this is just legal jargon, and all we really understand from the statement is that Meghan believes they broke the law publishing her letter. Here is how she has brought her case, and why they matter.

Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, is taking the Daily Mail group to court (Mark Tantrum/ GG NZ)

Misuse of information:

Misuse of private information is a common law tort in the English courts, first recognised in Campbell v MGN Ltd when Naomi Campbell was photographed leaving a rehabilitation clinic, which were subsequently published by The Mirror. The misuse of private information does not require an initial confidential relationship between the parties, but it will need to be assessed whether the disclosure of information would give substantial offence to an ordinary individual.

The Duchess will be seeking for the court to determine that publishing the letter was a misuse of her private correspondence with her father and it caused her ‘substantial offence’.


Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, infringement of copyright is when someone else copies, publishes or performs work without the permission of the author. To infringe the copyright, the publisher need not copy the whole work; the work can still be infringed if a substantial or significant part of the work is published. The author retains ownership of the copyright even after the physical correspondence is in the possession of another individual.

The Duchess of Sussex will be seeking for the court to determine that there was an infringement of her copyright as the original author of the letter, even if the Daily Mail only published parts of the letter. The Duchess still owns the copyright of the letter after she gave the letter to her father.

Data protection and breach of GDPR:

In terms of the letter, The Data Protection Act 2018 describes a breach of GDPR as a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data. Meghan will be seeking for the court to rule that is was unlawful for her letter to have been published without her authorisation.


Proceedings have started in The High Court. The High Court, together with the Court of Appeal and The Crown Court, are the Senior Courts of England and Wales. The High Court deals with all high-value and high importance cases and is based in Westminster.

More when we have it.

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Belinda A Bentley, Ph.D. Wed 02 October, 2019 - 1:14 am

Dear Duke and Duchess of Sussex,

I cannot tell you how very sorry I am for the treatment you’ve received from so many. I am horrified by the actions of individuals who believe bullying and name-calling are acceptable behavior. I find it so difficult to understand how our society has changed so quickly to toxicity with no accountability, and how anyone could act in such a manner.

You are both in my prayers and I hope that you will keep up the fight. You truly are making the world a better place. I know what it is like to be bullied, and it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel on some days. You both show so much love and grace to one another and to the public, and now, to your beautiful son. You are an inspiration. Please keep your heads up and know that at least one American understands, feels your pain, and has so much respect for you both.

I do not know if I am addressing you properly and within the Royal protocol, so please know I apologize if I am doing it wrong. I only want to show my support.

Thank you, and God Bless You!
Belinda “Bella” Bentley, Ph.D.

Ananda Jayasooriya Mon 07 October, 2019 - 9:23 am

Ananda Jayasooriya

what I believe is the Privacy.In public writing,reporting should be more responsible,irrespective manner is the problem.Therefore,Prince Harry to seek his side, truly he is correct.Misuse the private information subjected to legal matter, but better to creates a sound dialogue over the said incident.


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