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Last week Meghan Markle won a frightening victory against the Mail on Sunday, over the publication of a letter to her father, one that threatens the very fabric of our democracy.

According to the Mail on Sunday.

It’s leader column yesterday thundered: Step by chilling step, judges are protecting the rich and powerful.

In the Daily Mail, human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson let rip with: The right to free speech must NOT be trumped by famous people’s demands.

In the Daily Telegraph, Ross Clark chimed in with: Meghan’s win brings us perilously close to “rule by judges”.

It’s tempting to agree with all of this and it seems clear at this point that our privacy laws are a greater threat to journalism than our libel laws.

TB has argued in the past that newspapers really need to win a fight on this issue, for the good of the whole industry.

The question is whether it is picking the right fights.

My legal correspondent writes:

“Remember this didn’t even get to trial. Markle’s case has been considered so strong (twice) that it was ruled a trial is not necessary. There is a worrying trend with news organisations simply not getting what the law is because they don’t agree with it – the BBC and Cliff Richard for example. Each time it makes journalism harder.”

The law doesn’t say papers can’t publish private information. It says they must have properly considered the public interest and acted responsibly and proportionately.

Last August, The Sun paid substantial damages to Ben Stokes after publishing details of a family tragedy on its front page.

In that instance, the paper settled and admitted: “We should not have published the article.”

So it looks like The Sun’s lawyers looked at the law and the precedent and concluded they had no chance.

The Mail on Sunday should plainly have done the same.

Press release of the day

Really good stock market stuff here from AJ Bell.

There’s an interesting table comparing market performance around the world this year and some tips for next year.

Russ Mould writes: ““It is possible to argue that the UK stock market is cheap because it deserves to be, given the FTSE 100’s heavy weightings toward the unpredictable (oils and miners), the indigestible (banks and insurers) and the beyond-the-pale, (tobacco, oils, miners, bookmakers and defence stocks).”


The reputational risk of the stock trade frenzy

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