Meghan Markle and her staff 'repeatedly tried to protect her father from press intrusion'

·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27:  Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during an official photocall to announce the engagement of Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017 in London, England.  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been a couple officially since November 2016 and are due to marry in Spring 2018.  (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Jason Knauf said his protection of Meghan started in 2016. (UK Press via Getty Images)

Meghan Markle instructed staff at Kensington Palace to protect her parents from press intrusion according to a legal letter released on Thursday.

Jason Knauf, who used to work for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, appeared to refute Meghan's claim she wasn't protected while she was a senior royal.

The letter has been released as part of Meghan's ongoing case against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), the publishers of the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline, over its publication of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle Snr, in the summer of 2018.

Knauf was called upon by ANL to explain the extent to which he helped the duchess write the letter to ascertain whether he could be classed as a joint copyright holder.

Knauf, who now works for the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said he did not want to claim any copyright and insisted he was neutral in the proceedings.

LEICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 28: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Jason Knauf, Communications Secretary to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, accompanies Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on a visit to Leicester City Football Club's King Power Stadium to pay tribute to those people killed in the helicopter crash of October 27 on November 28, 2018 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Jason Knauf, here in 2018, now works for Prince William and Kate's foundation. (Indigo/Getty Images)

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The letter explained: "From 2016 Mr Knauf led extensive efforts to protect the privacy and reputation of the Duchess and, as and when directed by her, the privacy of her parents. This included drafting a press statement in November 2016, issued in his own name, condemning racist and sexist coverage of Ms Markle (as she then was) and other regular interventions - directly to media and through the Independent Press Standards Organisation ("IPSO") - to request privacy both for her and for her parents.

"In the case of Thomas Markle, as referred to in the Response to the Defendant's Third Part 18 Request, Mr Knauf was, at the Duchess's request, involved in providing advice and offering support with a view to protecting her father from media intrusion. That included many conversations with Mr Markle and a number of interventions, through IPSO and directly with publications, to object to intrusions into Mr Markle's privacy."

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It added: "It is a matter of record that this continued even after The Mail on Sunday reported that Mr Markle had allegedly been co-operating with press photographers. As the many media organisations which engaged with Kensington Palace at that time will be able to confirm, Mr Knauf and his colleagues made significant efforts over many months to protect Mr Markle and to object to intrusions into his privacy, in addition to the steps that were regularly taken to object to coverage of the Duchess herself, where this was perceived to be unfair or untrue." 

Knauf's remarks about the protection and the instruction of Meghan appear to be at odds with her claim in the interview with Oprah Winfrey that she was not protected in the institution.

Meghan told Winfrey she felt the palace was willing to "lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren't willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband".

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The letter was released after being referenced in court on Wednesday as Meghan's case returned to determine who would own the copyright of the letter.

With both Knauf denying any claim, and the Queen's lawyers denying that if he was an indirect employee of the Crown it would claim any copyright, Meghan was awarded a summary judgment in the matter. 

Meghan has successfully won most of her case against ANL in February when she was awarded a summary judgment on the matter of privacy, with the judge, Lord Justice Warby, deciding the printing of the letter was unlawful. 

Lord Warby is set to release a ruling at a later date following Wednesday's hearing.

A front page notice on the Mail On Sunday about the privacy ruling is on hold while ANL appeals.

Watch: Meghan’s front-page statement in Mail On Sunday on hold pending possible appeal