Meghan’s legal team has filed an application aimed at preventing Associated Newspapers, the Mail’s publisher on Sunday, from publishing five friends who anonymously defended her against bullying in a US publication over a year ago, a source close to the Duchess told CNN .
The women’s name was part of a confidential filing that was provided to the judge and defense in a lawsuit Meghan filed with the publisher after Mail on Sunday printed extracts of a letter the Duchess wrote to her father after her marriage to Prince Harry, the source said.
“We strongly believe that Mail’s threat to publish has nothing to do with the case, and is done only because Mail can target five innocent women through the pages of their newspapers and on its website,”
A spokesman for the magazine said in response: “To set the record straight, The Mail on Sunday had absolutely no intention of publishing the identity of the five friends this weekend. But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identity should be kept secret That’s why we told the Duchess’s lawyers last week that the issue of their confidentiality should be properly considered by the court. “
The source close to the Duchess said Associated Newspapers was trying to “scare” her and her friends before hearing the case in London’s Supreme Court, when the women could be called as witnesses. Prince Harry and Meghan earlier accused Mail on Sunday of selectively editing the letter to hide “lies” the paper had told about the Duchess – a statement that the tabloid specifically denies.
The Mail on Sunday and Associated Newspapers previously said that they stand by the decision to publish excerpts from the letter and will defend the case vigorously. The company will argue that there was a “great and legitimate” public interest for the members of the royal family and their “personal relationships.”
As part of the court filing on Thursday, provided to CNN by the source, the Duchess of Sussex said in a testimony:
Associated Newspapers, the owner of The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, threatens to publish the names of five women – five private citizens – who made their own choice to speak anonymously to a US media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behavior of the UK’s tabloid media. “
“These five women are not on trial and neither am I. The publisher of the post on Sunday is the one on trial. It is this publisher who acted illegally and tried to avoid liability; create a circus and distract from the point in this case – to Mail on Sunday illegally published my private letter. “
“Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a fundamental right to privacy,” she added. “The Mail on Sunday plays a real-life media game.”