The Duchess of Sussex’s father Thomas Markle says he went to the Mail On Sunday with the letter she sent to him to “set the record straight” after a “false and unfair” interview with her friends was published in a US magazine.
Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd, the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, over a series of articles which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter sent to 76-year-old Mr Markle in August 2018.
The witness statement, which was made public during a High Court hearing of an application by the duchess for a summary judgment in her favour on Tuesday, is in full below.
“I am the Claimant’s father. I am making this statement at the request of the defendant, which has asked me to explain my reasons for wanting the defendant’s newspaper to publish extracts from my daughter Meg’s August 2018 letter to me.
“It was a total lie. It misrepresented the tone and content of the letter Meg had written me in August 2018. I quickly decided I wanted to correct that misrepresentation.
“It seemed to me that the article had either been expressly authorised by Meg or she had at the very least known about and approved of its publication.
“I believed (and still believe) that Meghan wanted her account of the letter to be published.
“The sources for the article were said to be Meg’s ‘best friends’. It seemed to me she must have used these friends to pass information to the press, information that she wanted published, including information about the letter she had obviously told them she had written.
“I did not think her friends would have disclosed information about the letter unless she had asked them to.
“The article also referred to my letter back to Meg, which only she would have known about.
“The article quoted a long-time friend of Meg talking about the letter. She was quoted as saying: ‘After the wedding she wrote him a letter. She’s like, “Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship”.’
“This suggested to people that Meg had reached out to me with the letter, saying in the letter that she loved me and that she wanted to repair our relationship.
“That suggestion was false. The letter was not an attempt at a reconciliation. It was a criticism of me.
“It actually signalled the end of our relationship, not a reconciliation.
“The People magazine article also misrepresented my reply to the letter.
“It said I had replied to Meg’s letter by requesting a photo opportunity: ‘He writes her a really long letter in return, and he closes it by requesting a photo op with her.
‘And she feels like, “That’s the opposite of what I’m saying. I’m telling you I don’t want to communicate through the media, and you’re asking me to communicate through the media. Did you hear anything I said?”.’
“That implied I wanted a photo for publicity reasons. That was not the case – as my reply to her letter had made clear.
“I had suggested a photo of Meg and me together as I thought a photo showing we were in a harmonious relationship would make the press back off.
“The People article also accused me (and my other daughter Samantha) of ‘mistruths’: ‘Painful “Mistruths” Meghan’s half sister Samantha has spoken critically of her to the UK tabloids, accusing her of being difficult, while her dad, Thomas, has said she shut him out – claims her friends say are patently false.’
“It was wrong for People magazine to say I had lied about Meg shutting me out – she had shut me out, as the letter from her showed.
“The People article contained other inaccuracies about me.
“First, it suggested I was to blame for the end of the relationship as I had ignored her: ‘It’s almost like they’re ships passing. He knows how to get in touch with her.
‘Her telephone number hasn’t changed. He’s never called; he’s never texted. It’s super-painful, because Meg was always so dutiful.
‘I think she will always feel genuinely devastated by what he’s done. And at the same time, because she’s a daughter, she has a lot of sympathy for him.’
“That was false. I had repeatedly tried to reach her after the wedding but I couldn’t find a way of getting her to talk to me.
“Second, a former colleague of Meg’s was quoted by People magazine saying: ‘Meghan has been a rock for everyone in her family.
‘It’s a real shame that it’s being painted in this other light that is just absolutely false. She (took care of her father) with such incredible generosity. The fact that this could be flipped around, that she was acting out or not caring for him, is preposterous.’
“That was wrong and unfair. It made it sound as though Meg had been supporting me, which was untrue.
“Until I read the article in People magazine I had never intended to talk publicly about Meg’s letter to me.
“The content of that article caused me to change my mind. It was only by publishing the text of the letter that I could properly set the record straight and show that what People magazine had published was false and unfair.
“The article had given an inaccurate picture of the contents of the letter and my reply and had vilified me by making out that I was dishonest, exploitative, publicity-seeking, uncaring and cold-hearted, leaving a loyal and dutiful daughter devastated. I had to defend myself against that attack.
“Although I was approached by other journalists for comment after the article in People magazine was published, I decided to reach out to Caroline Graham of the Mail On Sunday to say that I wanted to get the truth out there.
“I never asked for and I never received any payment for the article.
“It was important to me in setting the record straight about me and about the tone and content of the letter that Caroline should not just describe what Meg had written but that she should actually quote from and reproduce parts of the letter.
“If the public didn’t see the letter and read what it said in its own words, I did not think anyone would believe me.
“At that time, there were articles saying I was a liar, including that I had lied about my heart attack, even on TV, and there were people saying I didn’t go to Meg’s first wedding when I did.
“The text of the letter proves that what was said in People magazine about the letter was wrong. It ‘dissolves’ what was said about me in that article.
“Readers had to see the letter for themselves – then they would know they were getting the truth.
“The Mail On Sunday respected my wish to publish extracts from the letter as it was telling my story and it was up to me to say which parts of the letter needed to be published for me to tell that story.
“I was therefore shown all of the extracts and I approved publication of those extracts. I could have said no if they had wanted to publish parts of the letter which I didn’t want published.
“The choice was mine. I did not want the whole of the letter to be published.
“The reason for that was because I thought the letter as a whole made Meg look terrible.
“I do not want to attack or hurt her. I just wanted to defend myself by countering the impression given of me and of the letters between Meg and me by the People article, and I didn’t think it was necessary to publish the whole letter to do that – but it was necessary to publish the extracts that were published.”