Defamation case against Duchess of Sussex by her half-sister dismissed by judge

A US court has dismissed a defamation case brought against the Duchess of Sussex by her half-sister, Samantha Markle.

The duchess, 41, was accused of spreading “demonstrably false and malicious lies” to a “worldwide audience” in the royal couple’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021.

In a filing submitted in March last year, Samantha Markle claimed that “demonstrably false and malicious statements” were made by Meghan to a “worldwide audience”.

The duchess previously filed a motion to stop depositions in the case from taking place, but this was dismissed by Florida US District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell last month.

“Defendant Markle does not show that unusual circumstances justify the requested stay, or that prejudice or an undue burden will result if the court does not impose a stay,” the documents, obtained by the PA news agency, stated.

“Defendant Markle does not satisfy the high standard required to stay discovery pending the resolution of a dispositive motion.”

In their joint interview with US talk show host Winfrey in March 2021, Harry and Meghan spoke about both their families and made a series of allegations about the royal family.

But on Thursday, Judge Honeywell dismissed the lawsuit, saying the former Suits actress was expressing “an opinion about her childhood and her relationship with her half-sibling” and a statement of pure opinion was “not capable of being proved false”.

In court papers seen by the PA new agency, Judge Honeywell wrote: “As a reasonable listener would understand it, defendant merely expresses an opinion about her childhood and her relationship with her half-siblings.

“Thus, the court finds that defendant’s statement is not objectively verifiable or subject to empirical proof…. plaintiff cannot plausibly disprove defendant’s opinion of her own childhood.”

Samantha Markle brought the defamation case against her younger sister in March 2022, alleging the duchess had defamed her by giving information to an unauthorised biography called Finding Freedom and by discussing their relationship with Winfrey on live TV.

Judge Honeywell also found the duchess could not be liable for the contents of the book because she did not publish it.

Previously peaking to the Daily Star, Samantha said: “Harry and Megan are always saying people have a voice and they should be heard.

"That includes your family but that also means if you're a humanitarian and you think your family should be heard, you don't disrespect your family, you don't ice them, you don't silence them.”

Implying that she wouldn’t dismiss an apology from Meghan, she went on: "If you are a humanitarian and a compassionate person and all these things you claim to be, you listen to your family and you try to think, 'what do we need to do to have a meeting of the minds? Let's resolve conflicts, let's be adults about this and let's show that we are bigger people'."

"The only way she can really fix things is, there should be some sort of public statement, they could say 'We've all said some hurtful things, I'd like to apologise and make things better'," Samantha added.


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