The identities of five friends of the Duchess of Sussex who gave an anonymous interview to a US magazine will not be revealed, the High Court has ruled.

Judge Mark Warby said the friends' identities should be protected "for the time being at least", after the duchess put in a legal bid to ensure their names were not revealed.

The identity of the friends was a side issue in Meghan's legal fight against Associated Newspapers (ANL), which publishes The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, over the publication of extracts from a "private and confidential" letter she sent to her estranged father in 2018.

Image: The Duchess of Sussex had written a letter to her father Thomas Markle

ANL claims it included the handwritten letter in five articles – two in The Mail On Sunday and three on MailOnline – because it had already been referenced by Meghan's friends in an interview with People magazine.

In the article published last year, the friends spoke out about bullying against Meghan.


One of the friends had told the magazine: "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.'"

The names of the five women were given confidentially to the judge and the newspapers for their defence earlier this month.

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The duchess says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, but ANL said she "caused or permitted" the article to be published.

Associated Newspapers said in a defence court document: "Information in the People interview about the claimant's relationship and dealings with her father, including the existence of the letter and a description of its contents and the claimant's father's letter in response, could only have come (directly or indirectly) from the claimant."

It also said Meghan's father, Thomas Markle, had revealed the letter to correct the "false" impression her friends had given about his actions in their interview.

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ANL's legal team had resisted Meghan's application.

Meghan's lawyers had argued that the friends – referred to as A to E – have a right to remain anonymous as both confidential journalistic sources and under their own privacy rights.

In a witness statement, Meghan said the women "made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a US media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behaviour of Britain's tabloid media".

"Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy," she said, claiming the threat to expose them was "for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain".

Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said revealing their identities would be an Read More – Source