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Meghan Markle’s half-sister claims she made up part of her past

By Sarah May
|
February 17, 2023

In ongoing federal litigation, Samantha Markle – half-sister of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle – has claimed that her estranged sibling leveled defamatory statements against her as a means to maintain a phony “rags-to-riches” story line that she “got caught” presenting to the public, as the Daily Mail reports.

Samantha Markle's assertions come as part of a lawsuit filed last year regarding allegations made by the wife of Britain's Prince Harry in the pair's 2021 televised sit-down with Oprah Winfrey as well as content published in the 2020 biographical volume, Finding Freedom.

“She got caught”

On Wednesday, Samantha Markle took part in a virtual hearing in the case, during which her attorney contended that Meghan Markle publicly leveled defamatory statements against his client once she threatened to reveal the inconsistencies in the personal narrative she had presented over the course of her relationship with Harry.

Among the allegedly false and defamatory claims made by Meghan include the assertion that she grew up as an only child and that she had earned scholarships in order to pay for her college education, rather than receiving substantial assistance from the pair's shared father, Thomas Markle.

In the words of Samantha Markle's attorney, Peter Ticktin, Meghan Markle used the Oprah Winfrey interview as well as the book Finding Freedom to “affirm this false narrative that she supposedly lived this rags-to-riches thing.”

“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,” Ticktin continued, adding that as a result of her misrepresentations about her sister, his client was put “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.”

Meghan's attorney hits back

Michael Kump, lawyer for Meghan Markle, took umbrage at Ticktin's remarks, declaring them to be “inappropriate” and “quite frankly offensive to my client.”

Kump argued that “[n]ot every perceived slight ought to be litigated and that's true here,” suggesting that Samantha Markle 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 mouthpiece added that the statements of which Samantha Markle complains are “not defamatory as a matter of law” in that they are simply opinions and criticisms permitted by the First Amendment,” further contending that pretrial dismissal was called for in this instance.

Kump also took the position that seven of the ten statements Samantha Markle claims are defamatory should be dropped from the case because they were contained in Finding Freedom, a book Meghan did not write or publish, though there has long been suspicion that she played a major, behind-the-scenes role in providing one of the volume's authors – Omid Scobie – with inside information meant for publication.

Depositions compelled

Though during Wednesday's hearing, Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell has hinted that portions of Samantha Markle's lawsuit may be ripe for dismissal and is expected to issue a written judgment on the latest motion requesting such, she did provide Samantha Markle with a noteworthy victory earlier this month regarding discovery in the case, as CNN noted at the time.

Despite a motion from Meghan Markle in September to thwart depositions from being taken in the matter, Honeywell ruled in early February that she and her husband would have to provide sworn testimony, as sought by Samantha Markle.

In Honeywell's words, Meghan Markle “does not show that unusual circumstances justify the requested stay, or that prejudice or undue burden will result of the Court does not impose a stay” on compelled depositions. “Defendant Markle does not satisfy the high standard required to stay discovery pending the resolution of a dispositive motion,” the judge added.

Whether the judge will rule on the aforementioned motion for dismissal before depositions can be arranged, however, remains to be seen, and in the meantime, Samantha Markle's attorney has sought production of a host of documents related to Meghan's communications with public relations staffers, Oprah Winfrey, and Scobie, as well as materials related to claims that she bullied her staff while still living in the United Kingdom.

Souring on the Sussexes

As the litigation with Samantha Markle rolls on, Harry and Meghan suffered a rather humiliating blow this week when they were the subjects of biting parody on the popular animated series South Park, as Fox News reports.

Skewering the Sussexes' simultaneous pleas for less press intrusion and their seemingly ubiquitous presence on Netflix, on Spotify, and on bookstore shelves, the episode chronicled the “Worldwide Privacy Tour” on which a fictitious, yet thinly veiled royal couple called “the prince and his wife” had embarked.

The unflattering characterization of Harry and Meghan comes amid growing speculation about whether the duo will attend the coronation of King Charles III, set to take place in May.

While Harry has suggested he would like to reconcile with the family against whom he has leveled a series of incendiary allegations in recent months, he persists in demanding a formal apology to himself and to Meghan, and though royal sources have claimed that Charles believes their absence would be far more distracting than their presence at his big event, it remains to be seen precisely how things ultimately unfold.