Meghan Markle's privacy trial pushed to later next year

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle in a 2019 file photo. A British newspaper group last month won a ruling to amend its defence against a claim by Markle for breach of privacy and copyright.
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle in a 2019 file photo. A British newspaper group last month won a ruling to amend its defence against a claim by Markle for breach of privacy and copyright.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • A London judge on Thursday agreed to delay the trial phase of Meghan Markle's high-profile lawsuit against a British newspaper group for privacy and copyright breaches.

Judge Mark Warby said he had approved an application by the Duchess of Sussex's lawyers for the trial to be adjourned from January until "much later next year".

The "primary basis" for the delay was on "a confidential ground", he added after a private hearing at the High Court in London.

"The right decision in all the circumstances is to grant the application to adjourn," he said.

"That means that the trial date of January 11, 2021, will be vacated and the trial will be re-fixed for a new date in the autumn."

Markle, 39, who with her husband Prince Harry, 36, is waging an increasingly public war with some media outlets, is suing the publishers of the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and MailOnline.

The American former television actress claims Associated Newspapers breached her privacy, data-protection rights and copyright by publishing extracts of correspondence with her estranged father, Thomas, before she married Harry.

The High Court last month allowed the newspaper group to amend its defence against the claim, to allege the couple cooperated on a recent book about their lives together.

Associated accuses Markle of giving the authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand details about the letter to portray her version of events in a more favourable light.

The news group also claims she wanted to use the handwritten letter "as part of a media strategy" and discussed it with royal communications officials before it was sent.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who quit front-line royal duties in March citing media intrusion, have denied being involved in the publication of the book, Finding Freedom.

Harry, the grandson of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and son of heir to the throne Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, has separately brought cases against two other British tabloid publishers for alleged phone hacking.

He and Markle live with their 17-month-old son Archie in the United States, where they have set up a charitable foundation.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Meghan Markle's privacy trial pushed to later next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe