Meghan Markle has made a forceful statement in her case against the Mail on Sunday and its publishers, urging the court to stop the publication from printing the names of her five friends who spoke to People for a February 2019 story. The women had been concerned about the bullying that the Duchess of Sussex faced from the British press, prompting them to talk to the U.S. publication. In Meghan’s last court filing, her attorneys detailed why the friends spoke out and that Meghan was not aware of their participation in the article.
The 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,” the court papers state.
Meghan, in her new witness statement, condemned the Mail on Sunday for threatening to publicize their names, since they were given in court documents. She said, via Hello!:
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 U.S. media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behavior of Britain’s tabloid media.
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.
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.
A Mail on Sunday spokesman said, according to Hello!, that the publication hadn’t actually intended on publishing the names. The spokesman said, “To set the record straight, The Mail on Sunday had absolutely no intention of publishing the identities of the five friends this weekend. But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identities should be kept secret. That is why we told the Duchess’s lawyers last week that the question of their confidentiality should be properly considered by the court.”
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