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Meghan Markle has sensationally apologised after admitting that she knew a former aide was in contact with the authors of "unauthorised" biography Finding Freedom, a court has heard.
According to a witness statement from their former communications secretary Jason Knauf, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex provided writers Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand with "background reminders".
Meghan apologised to the Court of Appeal, claiming she had not "remembered" her communication with Mr Knauf regarding Finding Freedom.
The book, which was first published in August last year, goes into detail about Prince Harry and Meghan's relationship, the royal household and personal lives but the couple have always distanced themselves from it until the bombshell revelation heard in the Court of Appeal.
After the royal couple insisted the authors do not speak on their behalf, Mr Knauf said in a statement "the book was discussed with the Duchess multiple times in person and over email".
He claimed Meghan gave the authors of the book "authorised specific cooperation in writing in December 2018," including "helpful" written "background reminders" and "briefing notes for when you [Mr Knauf] sit down with them".
Mr Knauf said in an email submitted in evidence: “The Duchess…added the briefing points she wanted me to share with the authors in my meeting with them.”
After hearing her former aide's evidence, Meghan conceded in her witness statement: "In light of the information and documents that Mr Knauf has provided I accept that Mr Knauf did provide some information to the authors of the book and that he did so with my knowledge, for a meeting that he planned for with the authors in his capacity as Communications Secretary.
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"The extent of the information he shared is unknown to me."
She later added: "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."
The Duchess of Sussex has launched legal proceedings against Associated Newspapers Limited [ANL] for copyright infringement over what she claims was a private letter written to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
In September last year, ANL argued the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had "cooperated with the authors of the recently published book Finding Freedom to put out their version of certain events".
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The former communications secretary said the notes from Meghan included things about her father, her half-siblings, "her perspective" on Harry's 2016 statement about her treatment on social media.
Mr Knauf also claimed Harry gave written pointers for the authors.
In an email sent in 2018, Harry wrote: "I totally agree 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…especially around Markle/wedding stuff…”
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Mr Knauf's witness statement in the Court of Appeal was supported with text messages and email exchanges, the Sunday Times reported.
Roya Nikkhah, Royal editor at the Sunday Times, tweeted: "Knauf also says Meghan told him in texts that she 'obviously' wrote her August 2018 letter to her father 'with the understanding that it could be leaked' to the media so she was 'meticulous' in her choice of words, calling him 'Daddy' to 'pull at the heartstrings' if it leaked."
This comes after Meghan and Harry have continued to deny any involvement in the book.
In her statement, Meghan said: "It is untrue that my husband and I [or either of us] spoke to the authors for the purposes of the Book.
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"Nor did we meet with them 'in about late 2018', far less did we do so at any time to discuss 'the ways in which [we] would cooperate in the writing of the Book'.
"Mr Knauf responded to say that he was against the idea, essentially because he did not expect the Book to be hostile towards us and he did not want to offend the authors.
"While I did not agree with nor understand Mr Knauf’s perspective, I took his direction and did not send the pro-active email to my friends despite wanting to."
Mr Knauf was Harry's communications secretary for four years from February 2015 and Meghan's from after their marriage.
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He still works for Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, at Kensington Palace.
The bombshell claims from Mr Knauf emerged as part of an appeal by the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, who maintain that the publication of a letter written by Meghan to her dad was lawful.
Meghan won a case earlier this year after Lord Justice Warby ruled that Associated Newspapers Limited's publication of her letter to her father was "manifestly excessive and hence unlawful" in a summary judgment – avoiding the need for a trial.
The publisher's appeal is being heard by Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean over three days, and the judges are expected to give their ruling at a later date.
- Meghan Markle
- Prince Harry
- Prince William
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