A High Court judge has made an unprecedented order for the Mail on Sunday to publish a front-page statement about the Duchess of Sussex’s legal victory over its publication of her letter to her father.
It is believed to be the first time a judge has demanded such a declaration, described by media lawyers as “extraordinary” and a “hard and costly lesson” for the newspaper.
Lord Justice Warby accepted that such an order represented an “interference with freedom of expression” that needed legal justification but said the “plain and obvious” aim was to protect and vindicate the Duchess’s civil rights.
Beth Grossman, a barrister specialising in media law from Doughty Street Chambers, said: “The front page of a newspaper might be considered an appropriate place to inform the public of other things such as Covid-19, or the threat of nuclear war.
“The interference to this degree with editorial independence is, I think, really marked and – I don’t want to say concerning because this is a rare decision – it is surprising.”
The Duchess, 39, sued Associated Newspapers over the publication of five articles that reproduced extracts of the five-page handwritten letter sent to Thomas Markle.
She was last month granted a summary judgment, a legal step that saw the privacy claim and the bulk of the copyright claim resolved in her favour without trial.
The Duchess’s lawyers sought an order requiring Associated to publish a statement about the copyright win on the…