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Jason Knauf, the former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Jason Knauf, the former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Jason Knauf, the former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle’s former communications chief at Kensington Palace came forward with her texts and emails in her privacy case against the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline after he was said to have ‘regretted’ not giving evidence when she won at the High Court without a trial, the Court of Appeal has been told. 

Jason Knauf disclosed bombshell messages that contradict her ‘false’ claims that a letter sent to her father after the royal wedding was private and that she never co-operated with the writing of the Sussexes’ Finding Freedom biography, it was said in court.

Mr Knauf, who now works for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was said to have changed his mind because he had been ‘deprived’ of the chance to give evidence at a trial after she won a summary judgment earlier this year.

The royal aide’s decision to intervene emerged at the appeal by the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline against a ruling earlier this year that it unlawfully breached Meghan’s privacy by publishing extracts from her letter to Thomas Markle.

Meghan told Mr Knauf in texts that she had been ‘meticulous’ about every word of the letter sent to her estranged father with the ‘understanding it could be leaked’ and chose to call him ‘daddy’ to ‘pull at the heart strings’ if it became public.

Emails from the Duchess of Sussex also raised questions about her ‘credibility’ and exposed her ‘hypocrisy’ including briefing two journalists about her half-sister and a private meeting with the Queen before her wedding to Prince Harry about the tiara she wanted to wear, the Court of Appeal was told.

After Mr Knauf’s statement was filed to the court, the Duchess of Sussex was forced to apologise, claiming she had ‘forgot’ her correspondence with Mr Knauf over three months in 2018 and telling judges in a written statement: ‘I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead’.

A written statement by a solicitor representing Associated Newspapers [ANL], released today, said Mr Knauf and other Kensington Palace staff who worked for Meghan had decided to remain ‘neutral’ during the initial High Court case – but he had then changed his stance after her High Court wins in February and then May.

Keith Mathieson, a partner at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, said a ‘confidential source’ told ANL in July that ‘Mr Knauf now regretted not providing a witness statement to us’.

He said: ‘It did indeed turn out that, since the summary judgment had deprived Mr Knauf of the opportunity to provide evidence at a trial, he now wished to provide a witness statement to the parties so that his evidence could be considered as part of the appeal’. 

ANL have appealed and claim the former actress wrote it with 'public consumption in mind'. ANL has also said that new evidence from the Duchess of Sussex's former royal communications chief Jason Knauf (pictured left behind the couple) who now works for Harry's brother Prince William, 'contradicts' the pleadings before the judge when he ruled in her favour earlier this year

ANL have appealed and claim the former actress wrote it with 'public consumption in mind'. ANL has also said that new evidence from the Duchess of Sussex's former royal communications chief Jason Knauf (pictured left behind the couple) who now works for Harry's brother Prince William, 'contradicts' the pleadings before the judge when he ruled in her favour earlier this year

ANL have appealed and claim the former actress wrote it with ‘public consumption in mind’. ANL has also said that new evidence from the Duchess of Sussex’s former royal communications chief Jason Knauf (pictured left behind the couple) who now works for Harry’s brother Prince William, ‘contradicts’ the pleadings before the judge when he ruled in her favour earlier this year

Meghan Markle sued Associated Newspapers Limited [ANL] over a series of articles which reproduced parts of the letter she sent to Thomas Markle (pictured together) in August 2018

Andrew Caldecott QC, representing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), said Meghan’s father Thomas Markle faced ‘nasty and untrue’ allegations in an article published by People magazine in the US and there was a public interest in correcting them.

How Meghan gave details of private meeting with the Queen about ‘tiara incident’ to authors of Finding Freedom 

The publisher argues that Meghan co-operated with the authors of the book 'Finding Freedom', citing evidence from her former aide Jason Knauf

The publisher argues that Meghan co-operated with the authors of the book 'Finding Freedom', citing evidence from her former aide Jason Knauf

The publisher argues that Meghan co-operated with the authors of the book ‘Finding Freedom’, citing evidence from her former aide Jason Knauf

The Duchess of Sussex briefed the authors of Finding Freedom about a private meeting with the Queen and when she started dating Prince Harry, the court heard yesterday.

Texts and emails disclosed by Jason Knauf have raised questions about Meghan’s ‘credibility’, Andrew Caldecott QC has said.

Mr Caldecott says Mr Knauf claims the Duchess of Sussex emailed him with a ‘number of headings she evidently wants to be discussed at the meeting between Mr Knauf and the authors’, he said.

Her email, which is said to run to two pages, said: ‘Please let me know if you want me to fill in any other blanks’.

‘Mr Knauf says he had multiple conversations with her about this book at the time’, Mr Caldecott said, saying the evidence showed Meghan was ‘not shy about giving private information to the authors’ and referring to information she gave about her relationship with her half-sister Samantha, which he declined to read aloud.

‘There is an element of hypocrisy here’, Mr Caldecott said, adding that Meghan also gave details of a private meeting with the Queen about the ‘tiara incident’, a reference to claims in the media that Meghan reportedly wanted to wear an emerald tiara, but the Queen had selected a diamond tiara that had been worn by her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1932.  

The Duchess of Sussex was said to have had her ‘heart set’ on a tiara containing emeralds but was told she couldn’t wear it because the green stones might have come from Russia.

A royal insider told the newspaper that the Queen stepped in and told Harry: ‘She gets what tiara she’s given by me.’

 

 

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Describing the allegations, he said: ‘In the teeth of his daughter being always dutiful and supporting him throughout with incredible generosity, first he cold-shouldered her at the wedding, in one of the most important parts of her life.

‘He gave a cynical and self-interested response ignoring her pleas for reconciliation in a loving letter.’

He added that the letter to Mr Markle from Meghan was ‘not a loving letter, not a generous letter’, contrary to how it was presented in the People article.

The barrister continued: ‘When we come to the very first allegation about cold-shouldering her at the wedding… this allegation is demonstrably false, we say.’

Mr Caldecott QC said the People magazine article about the Duchess of Sussex ‘presents a wholly misleading gloss on the letter’ she sent to her father.

He continued: ‘Either we believe in freedom of expression or we don’t. Thomas Markle has been royally attacked in the People magazine… and this is his reply.

‘If you read the People article we don’t know to what extent the allegations were authorised by the claimant or not.

‘It is perfectly reasonable for Mr Markle to assume that the claimant was responsible’. 

It came after the former Suits star’s QC claimed that the bombshell messages she sent to Jason Knauf actually helped her case and called on the judges to throw the appeal out.

Her lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke QC, told the court that Meghan’s letter was ‘private’ and had become public without her consent. He said the contents of the texts and emails to Mr Knauf didn’t change this.

He said of her texts: ‘They show that she regards the letter as confidential. There is no real prospect that the evidence the defendant now relies on show anything other than that she regarded it as a possibility [it would be released]. It can’t transform their case. All it shows that is that she acknowledges that it was a possibility that her father could leak the letter. This strengthens her case because it undermines any claim she wanted it released’.

Meghan, who previously insisted she and Prince Harry did not cooperate with the writers of the gushing biography, said she had ‘forgotten’ providing the aide details of what to reveal ‘when you sit down with them’ in a series of emails over three months.

It emerged she had emailed Mr Knauf, her then communications secretary who now works for William and Kate, a detailed briefing note on December 10, 2018, including some ‘helpful’ background ‘reminders’ about her estranged family and her version of events of a tiara incident involving the Queen.

Mr Rushbrooke said: ‘A great song and dance was made of this, but what is striking is how little information information she was willing to give about her father – and there’s nothing about the letter. She’s simply not prepared to go there. Every single aspect of those points provided were anodyne and already in the public domain.

‘The entire case about her working with the authors falls flat. Mr Knauf was paid to deal with media inquiries. They [the Sussexes] were happy to provide him with background information. But nothing at all on the letter. This was the perfect opportunity to share detail – but they didn’t’. 

Meghan Markle texted a senior royal aide to say she wrote every word of a letter to her father Thomas with the ‘understanding it could be leaked’ and chose to call him ‘daddy’ to ‘pull at the heart strings’ if it became public, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday. 

Jason Knauf’s bombshell texts and emails with the Duchess of Sussex raise questions about her ‘credibility’ and expose her ‘hypocrisy’ including briefing two journalists about her half-sister and a private meeting with the Queen before her wedding to Prince Harry about the tiara she wanted to wear, her privacy trial with the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline was told.  

But in her written evidence to the Court of Appeal, also published yesterday, Meghan denied she thought it likely that Thomas Markle would leak the document, but had prepared for the possibility. She said: ‘To be clear, I did not want any of it to be published’.

The Sussexes’ former Kensington Palace spokesman, who now works for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also shared emails Prince Harry he sent to him saying his former actress wife was ‘100% supportive’ of briefing the authors of the book Finding Freedom. 

Five friends had decided to 'help' by giving interviews anonymously to People magazine, which has 35million readers worldwide. Meghan insists she knew nothing about it

Five friends had decided to 'help' by giving interviews anonymously to People magazine, which has 35million readers worldwide. Meghan insists she knew nothing about it

Five friends had decided to ‘help’ by giving interviews anonymously to People magazine, which has 35million readers worldwide. Meghan insists she knew nothing about it

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have repeatedly denied contributing to the book – but emails revealed that Harry told Mr Knauf that briefing the authors would ‘help to get some truths out there… especially around the Markle wedding stuff’.

The Duchess of Sussex had shared a draft of the letter with senior aides at Kensington Palace before it was sent shortly after she and Prince Harry got married in May 2018, the court heard. 

In one text to Mr Knauf in August 2018,  Meghan told him: ‘Everything I have drafted is with the understanding it could be leaked, so I have been meticulous in my word choice. But please do let me know if anything stands out for you as a liability’.

She then told him: ‘Given I have only ever called him daddy, it may it make sense to open as such despite him being less than paternal. And in the unfortunate event it leaked it would pull at the heart strings. The rest is in the spirit of facts rather than seeming orchestrated or litigious. Simply an appeal for peace and a reminder of what is actually happened’. 

In a fourth text she said: ‘Trust me – toiled over every detail’, to which Mr Knauf replied: ‘Leave nothing to chance, that’s the only way through this’. 

Mr Knauf said in his written evidence: ‘She asked a specific question regarding addressing Mr Markle as ‘daddy’ in the letter, saying ‘given I’ve only ever called him daddy it may make sense to open as such (despite him being less than paternal), and in the unfortunate event that it leaked it would pull at the heartstrings’.’

Mr Knauf said Meghan had ‘deliberately ended each page part way through a sentence so that no page could be falsely presented as the end of the letter’.

‘In the event that it was leaked she wanted the full narrative as set out in the letter to be understood and shared,’ he continued.

He added: ‘She said she felt ‘fantastic’ after writing it and added that ‘And if he leaks it then that’s on his conscious (sic) but at least the world will know the truth. Words I could never voice publicly’.’

Mr Knauf’s evidence also contradicts the duchess’s repeated denials that she co-operated with the authors of the controversial biography Finding Freedom, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. Their controversial biography unleashed a new wave of revelations about the Sussexes’ strained relationship with the Royal Family and Megxit.

Mr Knauf has handed over messages that show Meghan gave him briefing notes in advance of a meeting with authors, including a a number of subjects she would be willing to help them on.  

Meghan wrote: ‘Given we are being asked to cooperate with this evidently authoritative biography, I need to share. I will not be comfortable doing so if this person is considered an authority and is tweeting the below [reference to a screengrab]. Can we set up a chat? I feel he needs to be back-briefed as soon as possible if there is any conversation about working with them moving forward.’ 

After Mr Knauf set up the meeting with Scobie and Durand, he emailed Harry to say: ‘Morning sir. Please see attached the topic areas Omid and Carolyn want to discuss. Please can you decide if you would like to share these with the Duchess. Let me know what you think. I will see them this week to help them with factual accuracy and context’.

Harry then replied: ‘I think definitely share this with the Duchess and make the suggestion to her that you have here. She will be 100% supportive and I totally agree that we have to be able to say we didn’t have anything to do with it. Equally you have the right context and background and help to get some truths out there. The truth is very 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’.

The Sussexes are pictured in New York in September

The Sussexes are pictured in New York in September

The Sussexes are pictured in New York in September

Meghan then emailed Mr Knauf with a ‘number of headings she evidently wants to be discussed at the meeting between Mr Knauf and the authors’, ANL’s QC Mr Caldecott said.

Her email, which is said to run to two pages, said: ‘Please let me know if you want me to fill in any other blanks’.

‘Mr Knauf says he had multiple conversations with her about this book at the time’, Mr Caldecott said, saying the evidence showed Meghan was ‘not shy about giving private information to the authors’ and referring to information she gave about her relationship with her half sister Samantha, which he declined to read aloud. 

‘There is an element of hypocrisy here’, Mr Caldecott said, adding that Meghan also gave details of a private meeting with the Queen about the ‘tiara incident’, a reference to claims in the media that Meghan reportedly wanted to wear an emerald tiara, but the Queen had selected a diamond tiara that had been worn by her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1932.  

Harry and Meghan ‘ignored pleas of senior royals to fly to the US and speak to her father’

Meghan won her claim that the Mail on Sunday breached her privacy by publishing extracts from a letter she sent her estranged father Thomas Markle

Meghan won her claim that the Mail on Sunday breached her privacy by publishing extracts from a letter she sent her estranged father Thomas Markle

Meghan won her claim that the Mail on Sunday breached her privacy by publishing extracts from a letter she sent her estranged father Thomas Markle

Senior royals urged Harry and Meghan to fly to the US to bury the hatchet with Thomas Markle, but they refused, according to a witness statement filed at Court.

Jason Knauf said Meghan decided to write the letter later given to the Mail on Sunday by her estranged father, in part to placate her husband’s family.

In his written evidence Mr Knauf said: ‘The Duchess sent me a series of text messages on 22 August 2018 about a letter she had decided to write to her father.

‘In the messages, she referred to conversations that The Duke was having with other members of his family who seemed to support taking a more direct approach in speaking to Mr Markle and going to visit him. The Duke and Duchess did not support this.

In one message to her aide she said: ‘The catalyst for my doing this is seeing how much pain this is causing H’ – H is a reference to Harry.

Mr Knauf said: ‘This was different to the motivations around possible communication with her father in earlier conversations she had been having with me and senior Royal household staff who were attempting to support her on these issues.

‘The Duchess said she was writing the letter in part to allow The Duke to demonstrate to his family that some action was being taken by the couple to stop Mr Markle from continuing to engage with the media. She added that ‘…while unlikely perhaps it will also give my father a moment to pause’.

Meghan touched on these claims in her own statement. She said: ‘Senior members of the family and their advisers expressed their concern over the public attacks, and expressed their desire to have them stopped.

‘I was especially sensitive to this as I had very recently married into the family and was eager to please them.

‘It is correct that (as I said in my texts to Mr Knauf) the situation was putting significant pressure on my husband (both externally and by his family), and I felt strongly that I needed to do something about it.

‘I felt that, even if my attempt to stop my father talking to the media failed, at least my husband would be able to say to his family that I had done everything I could to stop it’.

Meghan says sorry to court: Duchess apologises for not disclosing how she helped her aide brief Finding Freedom authors

Meghan Markle has apologised to the Court of Appeal for failing to disclose discussions helping Jason Knauf to brief the authors of Finding Freedom.

But in her latest witness statement, published yesterday, the Duchess of Sussex insisted she couldn’t remember the emails – or find them during her own searches.

The signed document also claims Mr Knauf’s emails actually help her case.

She wrote: ‘I did not have the benefit of seeing these emails and I apologise to the Court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.

‘I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the Defendant or the Court. In fact, had I been aware of these exchanges at the time of serving the Re-Amended Reply, I would have been more than happy to refer to them as I feel they strongly support my case’.

She added: ‘Not only do I refer to the background information shared with Mr Knauf as ‘reminders’, as much of it was information that he had already requested of me dating back to 2016 when he had asked me for a timeline relating to my family to enable him to engage with the media on enquiries, It is also a far cry from the very detailed personal information that the Defendant alleges that I wanted or permitted to put into the public domain’.

In her written statement the Duchess of Sussex also insisted she did not think her estranged father would leak a handwritten letter from her ‘because it would not put him in a good light’.

In her written evidence to the Court of Appeal, Meghan denied she thought it likely that Thomas Markle would leak the document, but had prepared for the possibility.

She said: ‘While we had to recognize that anything was possible in the extraordinary circumstances in which we were living and therefore the need to mitigate against the risks of disclosure of the letter’s contents, I did not think that my father would sell or leak the letter, primarily because it would not put him in a good light.’

She later added: ‘I had not heard from him since the week leading up to our wedding, but it seemed incredibly unlikely that he would disclose the contents because they contained unpalatable truths and would thereby negate the falsehoods the media had attributed to him.

‘The main purpose of the letter was to encourage my father to stop talking to the press.

‘To be clear, I did not want any of it to be published, and wanted to ensure that the risk of it being manipulated or misleadingly edited was minimised, were it to be exploited.’

Mr Knauf was communications secretary to both the Cambridges and Sussexes at Kensington Palace when the letter was sent in 2018. He is now head of The Royal Foundation, the Cambridges’ main charitable organisation, but is set to leave this post at the end of the year.

The Court of Appeal is being urged to overturn Mr Justice Warby’s summary judgment and send the case to a full trial, at which the duchess would be expected to be cross-examined.

Meghan’s legal team is opposing the appeal and argues that the High Court judge reached the right conclusions on the evidence before him. It also objects to the introduction of Mr Knauf’s new evidence and says that, if the court accepts his statement, Meghan will also wish to put forward new evidence. She has produced a 23-page statement, the court heard.

Her lawyers said her letter to Mr Markle had been ‘self-evidently intended to be kept private’ and that Mr Justice Warby had ‘meticulously assessed the factors’ and was ‘fully entitled to reach the conclusions that he did’. The case continues until Thursday, with a decision expected at a later date.

‘If you aren’t planning on telling them, can I?’: Prince Harry asked aide if he could brief Finding Freedom authors

Prince Harry asked Jason Knauf if he could personally brief the authors of Finding Freedom, according to a witness statement filed at Court.

According to Mr Knauf’s statement, the Duke of Sussex emailed him with pointers ahead of a two-hour meeting with authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand.

He said: ‘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 ?!’

Mr Knauf said he replied by saying ‘Of course – I’ve never stopped!’ to which Harry replied: ‘Oh how I hope they report on it properly. Good luck!’

Source: Daily Mail UK

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