Samantha Markle accuses Meghan of 'false rags-to-riches narrative' – Daily Mail

By Daniel Bates For


Meghan Markle’s half-sister Samantha has claimed the Duchess of Sussex defamed her in order to ‘cover up’ her ‘false rags-to-riches’ narrative. 
The elder Markle, 58, appeared with her lawyer on Wednesday in a virtual court hearing on her defamation case against her half-sister. 
Her attorney claimed Meghan ‘got caught’ and resorted to publicly ‘putting her sister down’ because she threatened to expose her. 
Lawyers for Meghan, who were also present on the call, said the claims were ‘inappropriate’ and ‘offensive’ to the former Suits star, 41, and demanded the case be dismissed over its ‘fatal defects’. 
Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell said she would issue her judgment later, but admitted she was ‘really struggling’ to see how Meghan published the statements at issue, a requirement for them to be defamatory. 
Samantha launched the lawsuit last year seeking $75,000 in damages over Meghan’s claims in her and Prince Harry’s 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey and the 2020 biography Finding Freedom. 
Meghan Markle previously filed a motion to stop depositions being taken for sister Samantha’s lawsuit, but was denied by a judge earlier this month
Samantha, who is based in Florida, claims her younger half-sister defamed her when the former royals sat down for a televised interview with Oprah in 2021 
According to Samantha, the allegations subjected her to ‘humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale’. 
The hearing was conducted remotely via Zoom, where Samantha appeared from what appeared to be her home, wearing a blue blouse.
Samantha and Meghan’s relationship has been strained for years but exploded into public view after Meghan and Harry’s engagement was announced in 2017. Pictured together in 2008
She initially appeared relaxed and was seen smiling on video and talking to somebody off camera but then turned her camera off during the hearing.
Samantha’s lawyer Peter Ticktin told the court that Finding Freedom was ‘used by the duchess to affirm this false narrative that she supposedly lived this rags-to-riches thing.’
He said: ‘She got caught. She was lying about her education, that she was getting all these scholarships. Her father paid for her education for goodness sakes, and she got caught with this lie.
‘Why else is she putting her sister down? Why else is she putting her father down?
‘Why else is she denying her family who has done nothing but good to her all her life? She never had a problem with them at all.
‘She’s denying them to cover up that she made up this narrative that she went from rags to riches which is nonsense, probably not even realizing the harm she would do to her sister.
‘Probably never realizing this would put an innocent person into the fray where all of a sudden she has hundreds of threats on her life coming at her, a stalker she had to deal with,’ Ticktin added. 
Meghan’s lawyer Michael Kump fired back saying 90 per cent of Ticktin’s comments were ‘inappropriate’ and were ‘quite frankly offensive to my client.’
In his opening remarks Kump said: ‘I’m reminded of the old saying: “Don’t make a federal case out of it.”
‘Not every perceived slight ought to be litigated and that’s true here. Plaintiff is taking issue with Meghan’s own impressions of her own childhood growing up but that’s not a proper subject matter for a court of law. 
Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle sued the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for $75,000 in damages last year over claims they made in their Oprah interview 
Meghan has been estranged from her dad Thomas’s side of the family after the fallout from her royal engagement. From left: Meghan Markle (aged 11) with Tyler Dooley, Thomas Markle Sr, Thomas Dooley and Samantha Markle
‘The statements at issue here are not defamatory as a matter of law… the right to voice opinions and even criticize are guaranteed by the First Amendment.
‘Courts have held pretrial dismissal is necessary in defamation cases because of the chilling effect these cases have on first amendment rights.’ 
Kump, who is a partner at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump Holley Law, has represented other A-listers including the Kardashian and Jenner sisters, Sandra Bullock and Barbra Streisand, and has been named among the ‘leading lawyers in the media and entertainment industry’. 
He previously represented Meghan and Harry in their legal battle against paparazzi, according to his website
During the hearing, he argued that the first seven of the allegedly ‘defamatory’ ten statements cited by Samantha were from Finding Freedom and should be excluded since Meghan did not write nor publish the book.
He said: ‘The law in Florida is clear – publication requires that the defendant made or published the false statement.’ 
Kump also argued that Meghan’s comments in the Oprah interview were not defamatory when taken in context. 
He said Meghan’s claim that she was an ‘only child’ was not the whole story. 
Michael Kump, the attorney representing Meghan Markle in the case
He cited the moment in the interview when Oprah asked Meghan about her half-sister on her father’s side.
Kump said Meghan did not respond by denying her existence, and argued that her comments were a ‘statement and expression of her own personal and subjective feelings.’ 
He said: ‘She never declared: “I am an only child with no siblings.” All she did was describe her own experiences growing up. Such statements are not readily capable of being proved true or false.’ 
Meghan did not actually say the line that she only met Samantha a ‘handful of times’, as alleged in the complaint.
The statement that Samantha only changed her surname to Markle when Meghan began dating Harry in 2016 was ‘substantially true’, the court heard. 
Kump said that the second complaint filed by Samantha ‘failed to fix the fatal defects that plagued the original.’ 
Ticktin tried to claim that Meghan had ‘collaborated’ with the authors of Finding Freedom by providing background information to them through her press secretary at the time, Jason Knauf.
Ticktin claimed that this would be the ‘second time Meghan Markle is going to have to apologize for misleading a court.’ 
He said that during a libel case at the High Court in London, Meghan admitted that she did provide the information to Knauf.
Judge Honeywell cut in and said: ‘Even accepting what you just said, I’m still struggling to understand how that makes her responsible for publishing the allegedly defamatory statements contained in the book.
‘I’m not looking at British law, or African law or Greek law, I’m looking at Florida law which is pretty clear,’ she added. 
Meghan’s attorneys argued that the first seven of the ten allegedly ‘defamatory’ statements cited by Samantha came from 2020 biography Finding Freedom and should be excluded since Meghan did not write nor publish the book 
Ticktin argued that ‘feeding information to people’ who republish it meant you are liable.
He said: ‘She is telling her secretary to tell the people writing the book that upon Meghan dating Harry, Samantha changed her name back to Markle and began a career creating stories to tell to the Press.
‘Here’s a woman who is in wheelchair who had to deal with bringing up three children and this is how she’s treated by her sister, it’s amazing.’ 
According to Ticktin, the implication was that Samantha is an ‘opportunist’. 
He said: ‘This is a person who changed their name to Markle when I was dating Harry and that says it all because now you know who Samantha Markle is, she’s this disgusting opportunist.’ 
In a startling admission, Ticktin said that it was ‘not the strongest case in the world’, but as the case moved forward they hoped to make it stronger.
As the 80-minute hearing went on, Kump said that it was not defamatory to call someone an opportunist.
He said: ‘Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are opportunists. All sorts of people are opportunists.’ 
In a nod to Harry and Meghan’s difficult relationship with the press, Kump said at another point: ‘Believe it or not what is reported is sometimes not true.’
Ticktin even raised the prospect of filing another defamation lawsuit based on the Sussexes Netflix series.
He said: ‘If this gets dismissed would could file a more lawsuit on the more recent things but I think it’s more prudent to deal with it here.
‘Now we have this whole deal on Netflix where Meghan Markle again defamed her sister.’
Judge Honeywell said she would issue a written judgement.
Samantha Markle published a memoir centered around her half-sister in 2021. She claimed that Meghan ordered their father to disown his children from his first marriage if he wanted an invitation to her wedding
She said: ‘I’m really struggling with trying to find under Florida law that defendant Markle published the allegedly defamatory statements.’
In the weeks leading up to the hearing both sides had clashed in court filings.
Judge Honeywell had last week refused to grant Meghan’s request to stop depositions being taken, meaning that within the next few months they will have to be grilled by Samantha’s lawyers.
‘Defendant Markle does not show that unusual circumstances justify the requested stay, or that prejudice or an undue burden will result if the Court does not impose a stay,’ the judge wrote in her ruling. 
‘Although a preliminary peek at the motion to dismiss suggests that some of the claims against her may be ripe for dismissal, the review does not reveal, at this time, a clear indication that the Court will dismiss the action in its entirety.
‘Thus, defendant Markle does not satisfy the high standard required to stay discovery pending the resolution of a dispositive motion.’
The ruling means that Meghan and Harry will have to sit for deposition which will have to take place before July, if the case moves ahead.
Among the claims they will be quizzed about is: ‘Queen Elizabeth was not a racist’ and ‘King Charles is not a racist.’
But in a victory for the duchess, the Judge Honeywell warned that the case may be ‘ripe for dismissal.’ 
In her complaint Samantha, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair, accused her sister of making ‘demonstrably false and malicious statements.’ 
She claimed that Meghan’s interview with Oprah and the Finding Freedom book were designed to ‘destroy (her) reputation and credibility.’ 
Samantha objected to Meghan’s claims she was an only child – they are half-sisters – and that they last spent time together 18 years ago.

Meghan’s lawyers have refused to respond to 38 questions from Samantha’s lawyers filed in the Florida federal court lawsuit as they want Judge Honeywell to rule on their motion to dismiss first. They also asked the judge to stop the discovery process but she refused to do so 
In fact it was only after Meghan met Harry that their relationship became ‘estranged and hostile’, it is claimed.
In addition, Samantha complained about statements by Meghan’s PR representative Jason Knauf that she was ‘promiscuous and a bad mother who lost custody of all three of her children from different fathers’, the lawsuit states.
The complaint states: ‘Defendant (Meghan) orchestrated the campaign to defame and destroy her sister’s and her father’s reputation and credibility in order to preserve and promote the false ‘rags-to-royalty’ narrative Defendant had fabricated about her life to the Royal Family and the worldwide media.’ 
Samantha and Meghan have had a difficult relationship for years which exploded into public view after Meghan’s engagement to Harry was announced in 2017.
Samantha was quoted by journalists as saying that ‘The Queen would be appalled’ by the nuptials and called her a ‘ducha**’ on Twitter.
She later apologized but turned on Meghan again in her memoir, titled ‘The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister’.
In the book Samantha claimed that Meghan ordered their father to disown his children from his first marriage if he wanted an invitation to her wedding.
Samantha alleged that the stress of the row was one of the factors in Thomas Sr having a heart attack which prevented him from attending Meghan and Harry’s wedding in 2018.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group


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