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December 18, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:53am

Meghan Markle settles legal action over long lens photos after agency goes into administration

By PA Media

The Duchess of Sussex has settled a claim against Splash News and Picture Agency, with the agency agreeing not to take any photos of her, her husband the Duke of Sussex or their son Archie should it come out of administration, the High Court has heard.

Meghan brought privacy and data protection claims against Splash in March this year over long lens photographs taken of her and her son in a park in British Columbia, Canada, in January.

At a remote hearing on Friday, Mr Justice Nicklin heard details of the settlement.

Jenny Afia, solicitor for the duchess, reading a statement in open court, said on 1 July, after the claim was issued and served, Splash UK was placed into administration.

She said: “In light of the administration, the parties have agreed to settle the claim against Splash UK.

“The administrators of Splash UK have undertaken that, should the entity come out of administration, Splash UK will not take any photographs of the duke and duchess or their son in the future.”

After the hearing, a spokesman for Schillings, Harry and Meghan’s legal representation, said: “As explained in today’s hearing, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have successfully settled a legal claim brought at the beginning of this year against the paparazzi agency Splash UK.

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“This settlement is a clear signal that unlawful, invasive and intrusive paparazzi behaviour will not be tolerated and that the couple takes these matters seriously – just as any family would.

“A simultaneous and similar claim against Splash US, a sister company to Splash UK, continues to move forward in the British court system.”

The claim was brought by Meghan in her own right and by her and her husband, Harry, on behalf of Archie.

Reading the statement, Afia told the court: “The duke and duchess’ case is that the taking of the photographs constituted an unlawful invasion of privacy and the syndication of the photographs to the press was a clear violation of their data protection rights.

“The duke and duchess’ case is that, when the photographs were taken, the duchess and her son were on a private family outing in a remote rural setting and that there was no public interest in the photographs.

“The duke and duchess’ case is that the day before the photographs were taken, a Splash photographer made a full reconnaissance inspection of the duke and duchess’ private home, walking around it looking to identify entry and exit points and putting his camera over the fence to take photographs.”

Neil Allen, of the administrators of Splash UK, said on behalf of the agency: “I accept all that Ms Afia has said.”

The settlement is the latest chapter in a fractious relationship between the couple and sections of the media which began in the early period of their relationship.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, publisher of The Mail On Sunday and Mail Online, over publication of a letter the duchess wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is the duke and duchess’s only child and has rarely been seen in public since his birth at London’s Portland Hospital on 6 May 2019.

Meghan and Harry stepped down from their royal duties at the end of March and are now based in Los Angeles.

Picture: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

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