Meghan Markle could take the stand in privacy battle amid claims she cooperated with Finding Freedom authors

MEGHAN Markle could take the stand in her privacy battle amid claims she cooperated with the Finding Freedom authors.

Her legal team revealed in documents released today the 39-year-old is "currently anticipated" to "give evidence in person".

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The former actress is currently living in the US with husband Prince Harry after the couple left the UK as they quit the Royal Family.

And her legal team today stated: "It is currently anticipated that C will give evidence in person."

The provisional date for the High Court Hearing in London was today set for January next year.

Others called to the stand from abroad would most likely do so via video link due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as:

  • Meghan Markle ‘fires lawyer who represented Johnny Depp in Amber Heard case’
  • Trial date provisionally set for January 11 next year
  • Meghan's lawyers say the privacy battle could cost £1.8m
  • Mail on Sunday want to cross examine Omid Scoobie in the trial over whether Meghan spoke to him about Finding Freedom
  • Meghan gave the letter she wrote to dad Thomas Markle to the Kensington Palace communications team

It comes as The Mail on Sunday argues the Duchess of Sussex had advance notice of what was in the book, and was told by one of the authors extracts of a personal letter to her dad would be published.

Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers over an article that printed parts of the same letter she wrote to her father Thomas, 76.

The publication claims Meghan allowed the bombshell book containing "favourable" intimate details of her life to go ahead – including extracts from the letter.

In their defence, Associated Newspapers' lawyers argue Finding Freedom "gives every appearance of having been written with their extensive co-operation".

They insist either Meghan gave or allowed others to give the information, friends shared it with the authors without permission or it "is the product of invention by the authors and/or the authors' sources".

They claim if Meghan hadn't been directly involved, she would have said she was betrayed or complained to the authors.

Meghan and her team have consistently denied being involved in the writing of the book, with the authors maintaining the information has come from friends and sources.

They argued that references in the book, published in August, were simply "extracts from the letter lifted from the defendant's own articles".

Her lawyers added: "The copy of the Book was provided just before its serialisation, as is common practice, and at a time when it was obviously too late for any changes to be made."

[It – Finding Freedom] gives every appearance of having been written with their extensive co-operation.

Documents released today show seven witnesses will be called to give evidence. Meghan plans to bring four to court, and the Mail on Sunday will call three.

The newspaper wants to quiz author Omid Scoobie to find out if Meghan spoke to him about the publication and contents of Finding Freedom.

A ten-day trial is expected to provisionally begin on January 11, and could cost Meghan about £1.8million.

The Mail on Sunday claims Meghan knew it was "likely" her father, Thomas, would publicly share the letter, and had given a copy to the Kensington Palace communications.

Meghan's application to restrict emails and text messages about what she knew about the letter to be limited to just four days was dismissed.

The Mail on Sunday had applied for an "open end" search of the messages but the court ruled it would be kept to a six month time-frame.

It comes after Meghan reportedly fired the lawyer who represented Johnny Depp against Amber Heard.

Justin Rushbrooke QC has confirmed he will represent the former actress in future hearings, after he stood in for David Sherborne when he was tied up acting for Johnny Depp in a defamation claim against The Sun.

The Times reports law circles think Meghan may have acted in solidarity with Depp’s ex Amber Heard who accuses him of abuse. Sources have denied this.

Costs of the case:

The court also heard that the total legal costs of both sides are estimated to be around £3million, up to and including the trial.

In documents before the court, Jessie Bowhill – who also represents the Duchess – said: "The overall total costs figures are £1,798,043.57 for the claimant and £1,230,425 for the defendant."

She added: "At the broad brush level, £1.8 million is a reasonable and proportionate amount for a seven to 10-day trial in the High Court in a case concerning private information, personal data and intellectual property rights of a high-profile individual."

The Mail on Sunday claims the previous budget given on September 14 was £320k less. They claim Meghan has already spent £235,000.

The next stage in Meghan's legal battle is due to be heard at the High Court later today before Master Francesca Kaye.

The hearing today is covering issues including as the timetable for naming witnesses, the trial date, a cap on legal costs and an application by Associated Newspapers' lawyers to amend their defence ahead of the trial.

Mr Sherborne, 51, lost a first pre-trial hearing in May and Meghan had to pay £67,888 in legal costs.

Last month, represented by Mr Rushbrooke, the duchess, 39, won the most recent tussle in the legal action, after Mr Justice Warby ruled in her favour over protecting the identities of five friends who gave an anonymous interview to a US magazine.

The senior judge said he had concluded that "for the time being at least" Meghan should be granted an order which protects the identities of the individuals.

ROYAL RUMBLE

Meghan is suing ANL over five articles in total, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019, and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.

The headline on the article read: "Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan's rift with a father she says has 'broken her heart into a million pieces'."

The duchess is seeking damages from ANL for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess's claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

A royal expert has claimed Meghan "played Prince Harry like a piano" and "got everything she wanted".

In her latest jibe at the couple, Lady Colin Campbell described the Duchess of Sussex as an "operator".

Meghan and Harry, 36, started dating in July 2016 and were married two years later, before starting a new life in LA earlier this year.

Meghan and Harry stepped down as senior royals in January and have since signed an £112 million deal with Netflix – as well as taking up public speaking opportunities.




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