Meghan Markle Sues Agency Over Paparazzi Pics of Her Walking Dogs With Archie
The Duchess of Sussex claims her privacy was breached when the snaps were taken in Vancouver in January, and has launched legal action against Splash News.
The High Court in London heard on Thursday afternoon, September 3, that Meghan claims her and her son’s privacy was invaded during the incident and that data protection laws were broken when the photos were sold to British newspapers.
Barrister Jonathan Barnes, representing Meghan and her son, told the hearing she denies suggestions that she agreed to the pictures being taken or “acquiesced” when she saw Splash photographer Steve Dennett.
“They were papped in this location,” he told the court.
“The photographs which are the first stage of the wrongful conduct we complain about took place in Vancouver.”
He said his client argues she and her son, eight months old at the time, were walking on a “private recreational route” on Vancouver Island, close to the £10m mansion where they were staying at the time.
“The day before, Mr Dennett was at the private home of the claimants, doing what might be colloquially known as casing their home, taking photos through the security fence,” said Mr Barnes.
“He wasn’t at the park by accident.”
Mr Barnes said the photos were sold by Splash to Associated Newspapers and News Group, publishers of the Mail and The Sun respectively.
“That conduct, which is essentially trading of private information or personal data, all took place here,” he said.
Meghan’s lawyers sent Splash a cease and desist letter but the agency did not withdraw the images, Mr Barnes said, sparking an application for the court for an injunction to stop them being used again.
“These images about which objection is raised are still being syndicated, they could be bought and sold in this jurisdiction in two minutes time if necessary,” he said.
At Thursday’s hearing a judge ruled the Duchess’ lawyers could serve court papers on the LA-based operation of Splash News.
The photo agency was not represented in court, but Mr Barnes said several points of a possible defence had already been raised by its lawyers in a letter sent in February.
He said Splash suggested the Duchess and her son had “no reasonable expectation of privacy”, they may have agreed to the images being taken, and the photos were “in the public interest and public debate was being assisted by use of the photographs”.
Legal papers will now be served on Splash in the US, giving the agency a chance to file a defence to the privacy claim.