Meghan Markle enlisted her friend Jessica Mulroney to influence the media’s portrayal of her, legal papers claimed yesterday, before her fury at a letter to her father being published.
Furthermore, the Duchess of Sussex ‘directly or indirectly’ revealed the contents of that letter to Thomas Markle to People magazine before it was published by the Mail on Sunday.
In the letter, she accused Mr Markle of breaking her heart ‘into a million pieces’ by breaking off contact, giving interviews to the Press and attacking her new husband.
Meghan is suing The Mail on Sunday and its publisher Associated Newspapers for publishing the letter.
Meghan asked Canadian fashion stylist Jessica Mulroney to put pressure on a former business advisor to ensure a ‘more favourable article’, the legal documents claim (pictured in Toronto together in 2015, left and the following year, right)
A smiling Meghan Markle was spotted Tuesday leaving the $14million Vancouver Island home where she and Prince Harry stayed over the holidays with Archie. She has been staying in the mansion since last week, but Archie was nowhere to be seen Tuesday
Associated Newspapers’ defence in the High Court claims:
- Thomas Markle sent his daughter ‘loving’ text messages until the eve of her wedding to Prince Harry before heart failure prevented him giving her away.
- Mr Markle claims the couple cut off contact. He said his ill health was an ‘inconvenience’ to them.
- Harry ‘admonished’ Mr Markle and told his father-in-law that his contact with the media was ‘causing hurt to his daughter.’
- After the wedding Mr Markle claims his daughter ‘either blocked’ his calls or ‘changed her number’.
- Mr Markle pleaded with his daughter to get in contact, saying: ‘You apparently have just written me off… I guess for the rest of my life?’
- Mr Markle had paid for Meghan’s private school fees, college tuition and continued to pay off her student debt even after she secured a role on the TV show ‘Suits’.
- He had also paid for her living expenses while she was in Los Angeles looking for acting work.
- Meghan’s ‘elaborate handwriting’ in the letter to Mr Markle and its ‘rehearsal’ of her version of events shows she wrote it ‘with a view to it being read by third parties and/or disclosed to the public.’
The legal proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court are being privately funded by Harry and Meghan.
Meghan has filed a claim over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
Associated Newspapers’ defence claims:
Meghan’s best friend Jessica Mulroney ‘tried to fix a press article’ for the Duchess
Meghan asked her best friend Jessica Mulroney to put pressure on a former business advisor to ensure a ‘more favourable article’, the legal documents claim.
Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, Meghan’s former agent and business advisor, revealed in the Mail on Sunday on April 8 2018 how the Duchess told her she was going out with the prince during a lunch in Covent Garden.
Meghan Markle and her former adviser Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne
She said Ms Markle had declared: ‘I’m going on a date tonight – with Prince Harry’, adding: ‘I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but I think she [Meghan] could barely believe it either. We were both extremely excited’.
Ms Nelthorpe-Cowne also claimed in the article that Meghan’s suggestion that she and Harry met on a blind date was not quite accurate.
Ms Nelthorpe-Cowne said that Meghan had taken the opportunity to Google Harry beforehand – hence her excitement just a few hours before the first date.
Associated Newspapers says in its defence claim that the article’s author Kate Mansey had written to Meghan’s press secretary Jason Knauff to ‘notify Kensington Palace of the contents of the interview’.
The document says: ‘It is to be inferred that on the same date the Claimant [Meghan Markle] passed this message to Jessica Mulroney with a request that she [Ms Mulroney] intervene to try to ensure a more favourable article was published, because on April 7 2018 Ms Mulroney wrote to Ms Nelthorpe-Cowne putting pressure on her to withdraw or change statements she made’.
Mr Knauff was informed and told the Mail on Sunday he would endeavour to ensure ‘this does not happen again’.
The document says: ‘It is to be inferred that on the same date the Claimant [Meghan Markle] passed this message to Jessica Mulroney with a request that she [Ms Mulroney] intervene to try to ensure a more favourable article was published, because on April 7 2018 Ms Mulroney wrote to Ms Nelthorpe-Cowne putting pressure on her to withdraw or change statements she made’ (pictured: Jessica Mulroney and actress Meghan Markle attending the Instagram Dinner in May 2016 in Toronto)
Meghan’s father’s messages to his daughter before and after the wedding are revealed
Thomas Markle sent his daughter ‘loving’ text messages until the eve of her wedding to Prince Harry before heart failure prevented him giving her away and claims the couple cut off contact and said his ill health was an ‘inconvenience’ to them, the Mail on Sunday’s defence says.
Mr Markle also claims Harry ‘admonished’ him for talking to the press in the wake of the revelations he had staged photos with paparazzi and said he was ‘causing hurt to his daughter’.
Meghan’s father, who was in hospital after heart surgery, replied: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you Meghan or anyone else. I’m sorry my heart attack is any [sic] inconvenience to you’, according to Associated Newspapers’ claim.
Mr Markle also said that allegations he ‘cold-shouldered his daughter’ and was ‘solely to blame for the estrangement between father and daughter’ were ‘wholly false’, especially that he ‘never called.. never texted’.
He was also accused of not answering 20 missed calls from the couple in the fortnight before the wedding, the documents say.
Meghan and Prince Harry on their wedding day at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018
Mr Markle said in a message eight days before the wedding, Thursday May 10, her wrote to Meghan: ‘I look forward to trying on the shoes and see how we look thank you for getting it ready for me its probably past your bedtime so have a good night I love you’.
On Monday May 14 he was admitted to hospital with chest pains where he was put in critical care for an hour and diagnosed with congestive heart failure, the legal documents say.
On Wednesday May 16 he had emergency heart surgery and and apologised for not being able to travel to Britain, and telling her he loved her.
After the wedding Mr Markle claims his daughter ‘either blocked’ his calls or ‘changed her number’.
He continued to text and said in November 2018: ‘I want to reach reach out to you or try to reach out to you one more time. You apparently have just written me off… I guess for the rest of my life?’.
Mr Markle says the letter at the centre of the legal row is the only time he has heard from his daughter and has never been introduced to or met Prince Harry or Archie, their son.
Meghan’s father Thomas Markle supported Meghan by paying her private school fees and college tuition, lawyers for Associated Newspapers claimed (pictured: a young Meghan with her father Thomas)
Thomas Markle ‘paid for Meghan’s private school fees and student loans after she landed her role in Suits’
Meghan’s father Thomas Markle supported Meghan by paying her private school fees and college tuition, lawyers for Associated Newspapers claimed.
They said Mr Markle also continued to pay off her student loans after she left Northwestern University ‘even after she landed a well-paid role in Suits’.
After graduating, Meghan returned to Los Angeles and her father ‘found her an apartment and supported her financially while she looked for acting jobs’.
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers added that she has ‘not supported him in any way’ since May 2018 – when she married Prince Harry – ‘despite the fact that, as she knows, he has been ill and therefore has medical expenses, not all of which are covered by his insurance’.
The legal papers add that in light of Meghan’s ‘very considerable means and resources, reasonable people may well take the view that her failure to support him in any way, financially or emotionally, since May 2017, is deserving of criticism’.
The original Mail on Sunday story in February 2019 told how the Duchess’s letter accused Mr Markle of asking for money, saying: ‘You’ve said I never helped you financially and you’ve never asked me for help which is also untrue…’
Mr Markle responded at the time: ‘Meghan’s given me cash gifts occasionally but I never begged or asked for them. She would send money at Christmas, birthdays. It was a couple of grand here or there.’
Harry and Meghan wave as they leave Windsor Castle by car to attend their wedding reception in Frogmore House
Meghan ‘knew it was possible her father would disclose her letter’
The ‘great care’ Meghan took over its presentation and its ‘elaborate handwriting’ shows ‘she anticipated it being disclosed to and read by third parties’.
They also say it was ‘perfectly lawful for her father to disclose the contents of the letter to the media and also lawful for the media to publish its contents in the US’.
In addition, the lawyers added that it was inferred that Meghan sent the letter ‘with a view to it being read by third parties and/or disclosed to the public, alternatively knowing that the same was very likely’.
They said this was justified by the Duchess taking care ‘over the presentation of the letter that she anticipated it being disclosed to and read by third parties’.
They also pointed out that the letter ‘rehearses’ Meghan’s version of the history of her relationship with her father and family ‘in a way that strongly suggests (she) wanted or expected third parties to read it’.
Furthermore, the lawyers said the tone and contents of the letter mean Meghan ‘could not have reasonably expected the letter to lead to a reconciliation between herself and her father’.
They added that Meghan kept a copy of the letter, which the Associated Newspapers lawyers infer ‘she did so in order that she could use it herself, including by disclosing its contents’.
Tuesday is the first sighting of Meghan since she flew back to British Columbia last week, although there have been unconfirmed reports of her driving into the nearby town of Sidney by the Sea and going to Victoria International Airport
Meghan ‘directly or indirectly’ revealed the letter’s contents to People Magazine before the Mail on Sunday published it
The Duchess of Sussex ‘directly or indirectly’ gave a story to People magazine about the letter to her father, before it was reported in the Mail on Sunday, lawyers for Associated Newspapers have claimed.
People magazine published a story on February 6, 2019 about the existence of the letter and a description of its contents, before the Mail on Sunday edition came out on February 10.
The article for People, which has a weekly readership of 40million in the US, sourced five unnamed close friends of Meghan.
It included details about Meghan’s relationship with her father Thomas, and information about the letter and its contents.
The article said: ‘After the wedding she wrote him a letter. She’s like ‘Dad I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship’.’
The Defence for Associated Newspapers said the information about Meghan’s relationship and a description of the letter’s contents ‘could only have come – directly or indirectly – from the claimant, not least because it presented events entirely from her perspective and in a way favourable to her’.
They added that the Duchess had ‘knowingly caused or permitted information about her personal relationship with her father, including the existence of the letter and a description of its contents to enter the public domain’.