We enter dangerous waters when we deem some subjects above criticism and those who invoke the topics to be voicing immutable truth.
Last week news media around the world found themselves navigating shoals and reefs in a Force Five gale created by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The Duchess, Meghan Markle, invoked not one but two topics from that growing list of sacrosanct subjects – racism and mental health – and, while I have no doubt that life in the Royal spotlight pushed her to the edge of stability, their choice placed her words above criticism or even analysis.
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is litigious – multiple simultaneous actions against media attest to that. Her latest ‘win’, however, is a useful wake-up call for all journalists.
A pre-trial judgment against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday in the UK has provided an unequivocal marker on how editors should treat private correspondence that falls into their hands.
Sir Mark Warby last week allowed a strike out claim and found in favour of the Duchess in an action she brought against Associated Newspapers over publication of the contents of a hand-written letter she sent to her father. Mr Justice Warby was in absolutely no doubt about the contents of her deeply personal letter being revealed in a WORLD EXCLUSIVE in the London tabloid. “Taken as a whole,” the judge said, “the disclosures were manifestly excessive and hence unlawful”.