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Meghan Markle settles privacy and data protection claims over long lens photos

Markle brought claims against Splash News and Picture Agency over pictures taken of her and her son in a park in Canada.

Image: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

MEGHAN MARKLE HAS settled a claim against Splash News and Picture Agency, with the agency agreeing not to take any photos of her, her husband Harry or their son Archie, should it come out of administration, the UK High Court has heard.

Meghan brought privacy and data protection claims against Splash in March this year over long-lens photographs taken of her and her son in a park in British Columbia, Canada, in January.

At a remote hearing today, Justice Nicklin heard details of the settlement.

Jenny Afia, solicitor for Markle, reading a statement in open court, said on 1 July, after the claim was issued and served, Splash UK was placed into administration.

She said: “In light of the administration, the parties have agreed to settle the claim against Splash UK.

“The administrators of Splash UK have undertaken that, should the entity come out of administration, Splash UK will not take any photographs of the duke and duchess or their son in the future.”

After the hearing, a spokesman for Schillings, Harry and Meghan’s legal representation, said: “As explained in today’s hearing, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have successfully settled a legal claim brought at the beginning of this year against the paparazzi agency Splash UK.

This settlement is a clear signal that unlawful, invasive and intrusive paparazzi behaviour will not be tolerated and that the couple takes these matters seriously – just as any family would.

“A simultaneous and similar claim against Splash US, a sister company to Splash UK, continues to move forward in the British court system.”

The claim was brought by Meghan in her own right and by her and her husband, Harry, on behalf of Archie.

Reading the statement, Afia told the court: “The duke and duchess’ case is that the taking of the photographs constituted an unlawful invasion of privacy and the syndication of the photographs to the press was a clear violation of their data protection rights.

“The duke and duchess’ case is that, when the photographs were taken, the duchess and her son were on a private family outing in a remote rural setting and that there was no public interest in the photographs.

“The duke and duchess’ case is that the day before the photographs were taken, a Splash photographer made a full reconnaissance inspection of the duke and duchess’ private home, walking around it looking to identify entry and exit points and putting his camera over the fence to take photographs.”

Neil Allen, of the administrators of Splash UK, said on behalf of the agency: “I accept all that Ms Afia has said.”

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royal-visit-to-africa-day-three The couple holding their son Archie during a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mrs Tutu at their legacy foundation in cape Town, on day three of their tour of Africa in 2019. Source: PA

At a court hearing in September, when Markle sought permission to serve her claim on the US arm of the agency, her barrister, Jonathan Barnes, said the images, taken on 20 January this year, showed the duchess walking with her son in a baby sling, and her two dogs, in Horth Hill Regional Park on Vancouver Island.

Barnes told the court: “In a nutshell, as a claimant lawyer, I would describe what happened to the claimants as being they were ‘papped’.”

The settlement is the latest chapter in a fractious relationship between the couple and sections of the media which began in the early period of their relationship.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, over the publication of a letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is the couple’s only child and has rarely been seen in public since his birth at London’s Portland Hospital on 6 May 2019.

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