Duchess Meghan wins bid to delay court battle with UK newspaper

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Meghan, Durchess of Sussex, speaks during a school assembly

By Andrew MacAskill

LONDON (Reuters) – Meghan, the wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, won her bid to have a privacy action against a tabloid newspaper postponed until next Autumn after a judge heard a confidential reason from her lawyers for seeking a delay.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex and a former actress, is suing Associated Newspapers over articles in the Mail on Sunday that included parts of a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.

Judge Mark Warby said on Thursday he had granted the delay for the trial, which was due to have started in London on Jan. 11, until the autumn of 2021. The exact date will be decided later.

“The primary basis for the application is a confidential ground, the merits of which have been examined in the course of a private hearing,” he said. “My conclusion is that the right decision in all the circumstances is to grant the application.”

Last month, the Mail successfully applied for permission to amend its defence of the case, arguing that the couple had cooperated with a biography about them, “Finding Freedom”, which was published in August.

On Thursday, Meghan’s lawyers launched an appeal against that decision and asked the judge to rule on the whole case without the need for a full trial.

The judge said he would hear arguments for a so-called summary judgment on Jan. 12-13. That would involve making a ruling based on the cases submitted by the two sides, without the need for witnesses.

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Meghan’s lawyers say the publication of the letter to her father was a misuse of private information and breached her copyright. They are seeking aggravated damages from the paper.

Meghan and Harry are now living in Los Angeles with their baby son Archie, having stepped down from their royal roles at the end of March.

(Fixes typo in sixth paragraph)

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