Forcing the UK’s Duchess of Sussex to make public the identities of her five friends who gave an anonymous interview to a US magazine is “an unacceptable price to pay” for pursuing her legal action against a British newspaper, the High Court has been told.
Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of a handwritten letter sent by her to Thomas Markle, 76, in August 2018.
The duchess’s legal team was at the High Court in London on Wednesday in a bid to keep the identities of the friends, who gave an interview to People magazine in February last year, secret in reports of the proceedings.
In the People article, the friends spoke out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, and have only been identified in confidential court documents.
The duchess, 38, says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, and denies a claim made by ANL that she “caused or permitted” the People article to be published.
In court documents for the hearing, before Mr Justice Warby, Meghan’s lawyers argued that the friends – referred to as A to E – have a right to anonymity both as confidential journalistic sources and under their own privacy rights.
Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said in written submissions to the court: “To force the claimant, as the defendant urges this court to do, to disclose their identities to the public at this stage would be to exact an unacceptably high price for pursuing her claim for invasion of privacy against the defendant in respect of its disclosure of the letter.