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Blink and you missed the Mail’s mumbled Meghan message

Mail on Sunday cover - see caption

The Mail on Sunday cover for 26 December 2021. The strap at the foot of the page reads: "The Duchess of Sussex wins her legal case for copyright infringement against Associated Newspapers for articles published in the Mail on Sunday and posted on Mail Online - see page 3"

THE MAIL on Sunday has complied with a court ruling that it must publish a front-page notice that it infringed the copyright of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, in using parts of a letter to her father. It published this on 26 December - probably the lowest-circulation issue of the year. The ruling stems from a court finding on 11 February 2021, followed by appeal after appeal, including appeals over the size of the belated message.

The Freelance has previously observed the commercial benefits to the Mail of appealing to the bitter end. Each time there is a new court hearing, its lawyers can spin any vaguely relevant story in court and the paper can then report that "under privilege" - without fear of further legal repercussions, because it's reporting what was said in court. So it can generate "stories" at will - if rather expensively.

The Court of Appeal judgment ruled on 2 December 2021 that back in February Mr Justice Warby was correct that there was no need for a full trial on the copyright claim. Lord Justice Sir Geoffrey Vos observed: "It was hard to see what evidence could have been adduced at trial that would have altered the situation." The Court of Appeal thus supported Mr Justice Warby's observation that the "factual and legal case on this issue both seem to me to occupy the shadowland between improbability and unreality".

Following the Court of Appeal ruling the Mail immediately made noises about prolonging this process by seeking leave to appeal this finding to the Supreme Court. The Freelance has no news of it doing so. We believe that any such application should be made within 28 days of the judgment - that is, before 30 December.

And here is the entire story that appeared on page 3 of the Mail on Sunday for 26 December:

The Duchess of Sussex: Following a hearing on 19-20 January, 2021, and a further hearing on 5 May. 2021, the Court has given judgment for the Duchess of Sussex on her claim for copyright infringement. The Court found that Associated Newspapers infringed her copyright by publishing extracts of her handwritten letter to her father in The Mail on Sunday and on Mail Online. Financial remedies have been agreed.

The entire story in the Mail on Sunday

The Mail Online did have the grace to link to the damning court judgments in its online version of the above.