Why are British outlets obsessed with Duchess Meghan’s ‘£1 in damages’, hm?

by Susan Ryant

Harry and Meghan

You know how Prince Andrew is in the news this week because Virginia Giuffre is suing him for raping her when she was 17 years old? And you know how the Duchess of Cambridge is also blanketing the media with her Keen Birthday Button Embiggening Extravaganza? Well, funny story, the British media is extremely desperate to change the subject from their problematic faves. It genuinely looks like Kate’s birthday nonsense blew up in her face (Tatler-style) and Andrew… well, it’s never been a good look. Which is why seemingly every British outlet it trying to make a weeks-old story about Meghan into a thing. That story? The Mail/ANI is “only” paying Meghan £1 in “damages” from her successful lawsuit. The problem with this reporting is that every outlet buries the details about how the Mail settled with Meghan for an undisclosed sum for copyright infringement AND the Mail has to pay the bulk of her legal fees.

Meghan Markle received the princely sum of £1 ($1.35) in damages from the publishers of the Daily Mail and the Mail Online in a settlement for her privacy action against them, after they published a handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father.

The retired star libel lawyer David Hooper, however, told The Daily Beast that it would be a mistake to read the paltry amount of the award against Meghan as indicative of any weakness in her case, which she won definitively. He said the much more important fact was that Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) had agreed to cover a substantial portion of Meghan’s legal costs, meaning she had not only proved her point of principle—something Meghan has always said was far more important to her than the money—but also “inflicted significant financial damage” on the publishers.

He said it was likely that if Meghan had wanted to secure a larger amount of money, she would have been involved in further legal wrangling, with ANL possibly demanding she prove what damage she had suffered. By accepting a token amount, the matter was now closed without further negotiations.

The publisher has also agreed to pay a confidential sum in damages for copyright infringement. Her spokesperson described this payment as substantial and said it will be donated to charity.

The settlement marks the formal end of Meghan’s three-year battle against ANL. Meghan won a summary judgment against the publishers, which meant she never had to face a full trial. ANL failed to get this unilateral decision of the judge overturned on appeal.

Hooper told The Daily Beast: “Accepting the £1 will likely have avoided a tremendous argument about the extent of the damage she suffered. She just wanted to establish a principle and get her legal costs paid, although she may well still be a half a million pounds out of pocket as a result of this process. They would say it was about the principle of the thing, but if they hoped that because of this the Mail will not write about them any more, they are in cloud cuckoo land. They’ve inflicted a financial loss on the Mail, but it is a company with deep pockets. Obviously the Mail would have preferred to win, but Meghan did nothing for her reputation by her memory lapse over some of the evidence.”

[From The Daily Beast]

I wonder where Tom Sykes (the Daily Beast’s Royalist columnist) finds some of these people. This was not a loss for Meghan at any level. She won her case twice – once with Judge Warby’s summary judgment, and again when the appeals court upheld her victory. She received the symbolic £1 in privacy damages because that’s what she asked for, and because she and her lawyers always knew that the copyright infringement was the easiest part of the case to prove. Thus, she knew she would get more money from the copyright part of the case. The Mail settled with Meghan on December 14th, meaning they did more than just cut her a £1 check. My guess is that she settled for something with seven figures. And, again, on top of all that, the Mail has to pay for something like 90% of Meghan’s legal bills. In addition to all of that #winning, Meghan directly went up against the Kensington Palace machinery which was actively working WITH the Mail. This was not a Pyrrhic victory.

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Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.