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Prince Harry attacks ‘bullying’ tabloids as wife Meghan sues Mail publisher

Prince Harry has issued a passionate statement defending his wife, describing her as “one of the latest victims” of the British tabloid press as she filed a privacy lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday.

Meghan Markle has taken legal action against the newspaper and its publisher, Associated Newspapers, over the “intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter” she wrote to her father.

A spokesperson for the paper said it would “vigorously” defend the case.

Scroll down for Prince Harry’s full statement

According to a report published in February revealing the contents of the letter, which can still be read on Mail Online, the former actress wrote it in August last year shortly after her wedding to Prince Harry at Windsor.

The report, which included an image of part of the handwritten five-page letter, claims its “existence emerged… after five close friends of the Duchess gave anonymous interviews to an American celebrity magazine”.

It followed a number of press interviews with Markle’s father.

In a rare move, Prince Harry issued a long statement yesterday in which he warned that the letter’s publication was “one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media”.

Schillings, the law firm representing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, accused the Mail group of waging a campaign to publish “false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband”.

A spokesperson for the law firm said the High Court action followed the “refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily”.

Prince Harry said: “There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.

“Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.”

He said legal action had been “many months in the making”. It includes the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

A Mail on Sunday spokesperson said: “The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously.

“Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.”

Invoking the memory of his mother Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi photographers, the Duke said: “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives.

“Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.

“Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.

“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

The Duke and Duchess, who are currently on a tour of South Africa as part of their royal duties, are said to be personally funding the case.

Any damages they are awarded in the event they win the case will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.

The couple won an apology and correction from the Sun newspaper this week after it wrongly claimed they had banned staff from using a car park because it overlooked their home.

Prince Harry’s full statement on the media:

As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more.

Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.

There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.

Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations – something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

It is for this reason we are taking legal action, a process that has been many months in the making. The positive coverage of the past week from these same publications exposes the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave. She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you’ve seen on this Africa tour.

For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.

This particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media. The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question. In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.

There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.

Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.

We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it.

 

Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville

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