Mail on Sunday can print smaller statement than Meghan requested, says judge

Lord Justice Warby reviews mock-up of front page and finds notice is ‘sufficiently prominent’

The Mail on Sunday can publish a smaller front-page statement about the Duchess of Sussex’s copyright court win than one she had asked for, according to a judge who has also granted time for the title to seek permission to appeal.

The publishers of the newspaper had been ordered to print a front-page statement declaring her victory in her copyright claim over its publication of extracts from a private letter to her estranged father.

But while she had wanted an statement similar in size and scale to an original front-page trailer about the letter, the same judge on Monday ruled in favour of the paper after studying a proposed mock-up page

“If the statement was printed in the same font as the trailer it would consume a much, much greater proportion of the front page, becoming the main story of the day, or significantly downgrading that news story,” Lord Justice Warby said in a ruling, in which he added that his original ruling was not an order for an “apology.”

The mock-up seemed to be “sufficiently prominent and eye-catching”, said the judge, in the latest round of the privacy battle between Meghan and Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online.

It emerged separately that a public relations expert who had been executive director of Prince Harry and Meghan’s Archewell foundation is stepping out of the role after less than a year. Catherine St-Laurent, who has worked in the past for the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, is staying with the organisation.

The new executive director is to be the couple’s UK spokesperson, James Holt, who has worked in political communications at the Cabinet Office and for the Liberal Democrats.

The foundation also said it had recently hired Ben Browning, a film executive who the produced Oscar-nominated Promising Young Woman, as head of content. He will work closely with Netflix and Spotify to lead what were referred to as Archewell’s “creative partnerships.”

A partnership was also announced with Invisible Hand “a social impact and culture change agency” based in New York. The foundation has previously announced links to other press, race and mental health charities.

The duchess had sued ANL over a series of articles that reproduced parts of a “heartfelt” letter sent to her father in August 2018. Meghan claimed the five articles published in February 2019 involved a misuse of her private information, breached her copyright and breached the Data Protection Act.

Last month Meghan was granted summary judgment in relation to her privacy claim, meaning she won that part of the case without having to go to trial, as well as most of her copyright claim.

ANL was initially refused permission to appeal against that decision, but can still apply directly to the court of appeal.

In a further ruling on Monday, Warby said ANL had also applied for permission to appeal against his order requiring the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online to publish the statements.

The judge refused ANL permission to appeal, but granted a “stay” of the order requiring publication of the statements “only until the matter has been decided by the court of appeal”.

The statement to Meghan in the Mail on Sunday, and Mail Online, was allowed to be on hold until 6 April pending the court of appeal’s decision.


Ben Quinn

The GuardianTramp

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