During the summary judgment hearing in Meghan Markle’s case against the Mail on Sunday and its publisher Associated Newspapers, new details about the extent to which Palace staff intervened were revealed.
Associated’s lawyers are arguing against the Duchess of Sussex’s team, who say that publishing the letter she sent her father Thomas Markle solicited unwanted intrusion into her private life and access to private information.
According to the publisher, the “Palace Four” played a part in the letter. Those four included the previously revealed Jason Knauf, former communications secretary, as well as former private secretary Samantha Cohen, former deputy communications secretary Christian Jones and former communications secretary Sara Latham.
Jones’ departure as Prince William’s private secretary and head of the royal household was announced Tuesday; he will join the private equity group Bridgepoint as a partner.
Associated’s lawyers hope to bring those four to testify should the case go to trial as they believe they have related information. They say a “senior member of the royal household” has provided them information on how Kensington Palace staff helped.
Their argument has attempted to prove that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle collaborated with the Finding Freedom authors by providing a copy of the letter but have still failed to bring substantial information.
Mail on Sunday editor Ted Verity claimed in a witness statement, Latham “was essentially fact-checking, to make sure the authors got nothing wrong” and that a rep from Sunshine Sachs “was responsible for making calls to ‘open doors’ to the authors of Finding Freedom.”
In reference to the Palace source who leaked the information, Verity added, “This was not gossip or tittle-tattle: it was what I considered to be high-grade information from a serious individual in a position of authority and responsibility who knew the implications of what they were telling me.”
Associated’s team are trying to argue that the letter was leaked to certain press members to help share Meghan’s narrative.
While Meghan’s lawyers have acknowledged the claim and said “a person” did give the author’s information about the letter, co-author Omid Scobie has provided witness testimony, clarifying that he was not provided with a copy of the letter, but instead used passages from the Mail on Sunday.
Meghan’s lawyers previously dismissed the claims in the biography, calling some of the details “inaccurate.”
In a statement to ET Canada at the time of publication, Prince Harry and Meghan’s rep said, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to ‘Finding Freedom’. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting.”
Justice Warby will make his final decision in the coming weeks. If he does not side with Meghan, the case will go to trial in the fall.
If the case does go to trial, it is likely both Meghan and Thomas will have to give testimony under oath, as well as the “Palace Four”.
The Sunday Times previously reported that Palace officials hope the case won’t go ahead because it will be “deeply uncomfortable for the institution” as it will show the inner workings of the royal aides.
ITV then reported the “Palace Four” would be willing to give evidence.
A joint letter from the former members of Palace staff was released by the High Court. In it, the four said they were “willing” to assist the court which “would, if appropriate, include giving oral evidence at trial and/or providing to the parties any relevant documentary evidence.”
All four of the former staffers said they do not “wish to take sides in the dispute” between the duchess and the newspaper.
“Our clients are all strictly neutral”, their representative at the legal firm Addleshaw Goddard wrote.