The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have followed her case against a British newspaper by videolink from their new home in Los Angeles, as the High Court heard she has not spoken to her father in nearly two years.
The Duchess tuned in from the US in the early hours of Friday morning as her legal team began her attempt to sue The Mail on Sunday over the publication of a handwritten letter from her to Thomas Markle.
The court heard details of a "rift" in the Duchess's relationship with her father, with claims she could not know he felt "harassed, humiliated, manipulated and exploited" because she has not spoken to him since her wedding.
The hearing, in which the newspaper applied to strike out particular claims from the future trial, saw her legal team argue that Associated Newspapers had "stirred up" a "rift" between father and daughter, manipulating him into giving interviews.
The defence argued the Duchess could not know how Mr Markle felt about the publication of stories involving him, saying it was "very curious" to state how he had been treated without asking his opinion.
The hearing began at 2.30am Los Angeles time. The Duchess and Mr Markle have not spoken since shortly before her wedding on May 19, 2018, when they exchanged text messages.
She wrote to him in August 2018, with the letter now at the centre of the case saying he had "broken her heart into a million pieces". He replied in September claiming 85 per cent of what had been reported as another interview with MailOnline was "lies and bull---t".
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The Mail on Sunday published extracts from the first letter after being given it by Mr Markle along with an interview. The Duchess is suing for undisclosed damages over misuse of private information, breach of data protection, and copyright infringement.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Warby, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice while barristers appeared via videolink, heard arguments from Associated Newspapers to have parts of the Duchess's case struck out. They include allegations it acted "dishonestly", with "malicious intent", and that it was among tabloid newspapers "deliberately seeking to dig or stir up issues between her and her father".
David Sherborne, the Duchess's barrister, told the court the newspaper "disclosed to the whole world the contexts on a private letter written by a daughter to her father". He further argued that the previously "warm" family relationship was "stirred up" by the publication, which he says went on to omit parts of her letter in a "highly misleading and dishonest" manner. The court heard the publisher had "manipulated this vulnerable man into giving interviews" which Mr Markle had later described as "lies and bull----".
"It is the defendant's actions in stirring up this dispute that they use as justification for publishing the contents of the letter," said Mr Sherborne, adding it was printed with the "sole and entirely gratuitous purpose of satisfying the curiosity of the defendant's readership about the private life of the claimant".
Antony White QC, for Associated Newspapers, argued that allegations of "bad faith" on The Mail on Sunday's part were merely "bald assertions" and should not form part of the trial.On the allegation that the newspaper had "harassed, humiliated, manipulated and exploited" Mr Markle, he told the court it was "very curious" to state "without seeing whether that is the position adopted or thought to be the case by the individual in question".
The Duchess's case currently includes examples of other "intrusive and offensive" articles her team argues should be considered as part of the publisher's "agenda". Mr Sherborne said: "It is absurd to suggest in revealing the detailed contents of this letter, the publisher was simply seeking to 'set the record straight' on behalf of the author's father as to a 'dispute' which had arisen. In fact, it was the same publisher which had first harassed and humiliated the author's father despite him trying to avoid the limelight."
In court documents, Mr White said allegations that The Mail on Sunday had been "deliberately seeking to dig or stir up issues between her and her father" amounted to "complex tests of mental state" which were "irrelevant" to her privacy claim. He also took issue with the Duchess's claim that the publisher "acted dishonestly" when deciding which parts of her letter to her father to publish. He added: "It is extremely common for the media to summarise or edit documents when reporting current events, and that is not a basis for an allegation of dishonesty."
Mr Justice Warby is expected to deliver his ruling in the coming week.