MEGHAN Markle yesterday apologised to a court for not telling a judge about emails showing her attempts to influence a biography about her and Prince Harry, saying: “I forgot.”
Emails were released by the Court of Appeal showing how she and Harry had heavily briefed their press spokesman Jason Knauf before he met writers Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand two years ago.
Mr Knauf also revealed email exchanges over a letter Meghan wrote to estranged father Thomas, 77, after her wedding.
He claimed Meghan said she would refer to him as “daddy” because it would “pull at the heartstrings” if leaked.
The Duchess of Sussex, 40, has always vehemently denied helping the authors of the controversial Finding Freedom biography
Mr Knauf’s 23-page statement to the court revealed the Sussexes had told him what to say to the authors.
Harry, 37, also emailed him saying: “I totally agree that we have to be able to say we didn’t have anything to do with it.
“Equally, you giving the right context and background to them would help get some truths out there.”
Yesterday, Meghan apologised to judges for not mentioning the emails before in her long-running High Court privacy case against The Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of the letter to her father.
She had won her case but the newspaper is appealing.
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Meghan said: “I did not have the benefit of seeing these emails and I apologise to the Court for the fact I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.
“I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the Court.”
The extent of Meghan and Harry’s secret co-operation with the authors of biography Finding Freedom was laid bare.
Emails released yesterday revealed an account of Meghan choosing her wedding tiara with the Queen were attributed to a “palace aide” in Finding Freedom when it was released last summer.
In another exchange Harry told Mr Knauf: “I totally agree that we have to be able to say we didn’t have anything to do with it. Equally, you giving the right context and background to them would help get some truths out there. The truth is v much needed and would be appreciated, especially around the Markle/wedding stuff but at the same time we can’t put them directly in touch with her friends.”
Harry also emailed Mr Knauf to wish him “good luck” before his briefing with the authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand in December 2018.
Meghan, 40, even wrote five bullet points and 31 “reminders” she says “may be helpful to have”.
In her statement to court, Meghan admitted Mr Knauf “did provide some information to the authors for the book” and “did so with my knowledge”.
Her new recollections appeared in a 23-page statement after Mr Knauf released the emails to lawyers appealing her High Court privacy case with estranged dad Thomas.
It comes after a string of vocal denials of collaboration via her spokesmen and lawyers.
Court documents submitted on Meghan’s behalf signed by her lawyer Justin Rushbrook in her High Court privacy hearing in September 2020 said: “The claimant and her husband did not collaborate with the authors of the book.”
When Finding Freedom was published, a spokesman for the couple told the Press: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute.”
I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the Court.
And in his witness statement, co-author Scobie said: “Any suggestion that the Duke and Duchess collaborated on the book is false.”
Mr Knauf’s statement reveals: “The book was discussed directly with the Duchess multiple times in person and over email.”
He says on November 12, 2018 that “the Duchess asked to discuss the book with me that afternoon”.
Mr Knauf added: “On December 10 2018 I emailed The Duke about the book and included a list of topics that the authors wanted to discuss. I asked him to decide whether or not these should be shared with the Duchess as she’d requested to not be told about media stories or questions that involved her family.
“In relation to the authors’ request to be put directly in touch with friends of The Duchess I advised that ‘this was not a good idea’ and that ‘being able to say hand on heart that we did not facilitate access will be important’.
“I also told him that I would meet the authors that week to help with ‘factual accuracy and context’.” Later that day Mr Knauf says he emailed Meghan a list of potential questions.
“The Duchess replied that evening saying, ‘Thank you very much for the info below — for when you sit down with them it may be helpful to have some background reminders so I’ve included them just in case. I know you are better versed at this than most but assisting where I can. I appreciate your support — please let me know if you need me to fill in any other blanks’.”
Mr Knauf wrote Meghan highlighted a number of points she wanted stressing in the book, including:
- Information on how she had minimal contact with her half-siblings throughout her childhood;
- That she had been “close for most of her life” with her father and she had supported him “…in spite of his reclusiveness.” She added that “media pressure crumbled him and he began doing Press deals brokered by his daughter Samantha” and that “despite countless efforts to support him through the past two years, they now no longer have a relationship”;
- Her perspective on the thinking behind a statement in November 2016 issued by me about the way she was being treated by the media;
- Her happiness about moving to Windsor;
- Detail on how the wedding tiara had been selected and that it had been misrepresented by media. Later that evening Harry got involved with his own ideas for Mr Knauf to discuss with the authors.
Mr Knauf said: “The Duke wrote to me, ‘Also, are u planning on giving them a rough idea of what she’s been through over the last 2yrs? Media onslaught, cyber bullying on a different scale, puppeteering Thomas Markle etc etc etc. Even if they choose not to use it, they should hear what it was like from someone who was in the thick of it. So if you aren’t planning on telling them, can I?!”
“I replied saying, ‘Of course — I’ve never stopped!’”
Responding to Mr Knauf’s statement, Meghan claims he raised the book in summer 2018 but that she declined to meet the authors and advised friends not to take part. She says she searched for the words “Finding Freedom” in her emails — after The Mail on Sunday lawyers accused her of collaborating with the authors — but found zero results.
Her new statement says: “I now believe this was an oversight.”
She added: “I had forgotten about the email communications I had with Mr Knauf in November and December 2018, and about his meeting with the authors.”
The Duchess also now says she “responded with some background reminders”.
They included an account of the Queen being present when she tried on five wedding tiaras, which appeared in the book.
And several disparaging stories about her estranged half-sister Samantha. Plus lots of “reminders” that painted a favourable picture referring to “philanthropic interests”, her “charity work behind the scenes” and Harry’s “humanitarian focuses”.
In her new court statement she added: “Until I saw these emails, I had not given any thought to Mr Knauf’s meeting with this journalist, or any other — those meetings and calls comprised the entirety of Mr Knauf’s job.
“No particular meeting stood out in my mind, as there was a daily deluge of media inquiries which he was tasked with handling.”
Meghan and Harry have also denied ever meeting the authors in person and there is no evidence that they did so.
MEGHAN’S forgetfulness has raised eyebrows in royal circles.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, the Duchess and Harry had claimed a senior member of the Royal Family had asked the couple how “dark” their son Archie would be.
Harry claimed it happened when the pair first met but Meghan remembered it taking place while she was pregnant.
Reports pointed out 17 claims made by the Sussexes in the interview that contained contradictions or errors of fact.
Responding to allegations of racism, the Queen pledged to take it “very seriously” and famously added: “Recollections may vary.”
A royal source said: “The fact the Duchess has admitted forgetting key emails and discussions of fact in a high-profile court case is surprising to say the least.”
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