Meghan Markle wins defamation lawsuit against half-sister Samantha as Florida judge dismisses case
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has emerged victorious from a defamation lawsuit filed against her by her half-sister Samantha Markle.
The actor and estranged royal had been accused by her relative of spreading “malicious lies” during an explosive 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey and alleged statements to journalists in 2020.
But on Thursday a Florida judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying that Ms Markle’s statements were pure opinion and “not capable of being proved false”.
"As a reasonable listener would understand it, Defendant merely expresses an opinion about her childhood and her relationship with her half-siblings," wrote US District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell her order.
"Thus, the Court finds that Defendant’s statement is not objectively verifiable or subject to empirical proof.... Plaintiff cannot plausibly disprove Defendant’s opinion of her own childhood."
It is only the latest instance of fallout from Ms Markle and her husband Prince Harry's bitter schism with the British royal family, which they accuse of failing to support them against intrusive and racist treatment by the country's media.
Samantha Markle filed her lawsuit in March 2022, alleging that Ms Markle had defamed her by giving information to an unauthorised biography called Finding Freedom and by discussing their relationship with Ms Winfrey on live TV.
According to Judge Honeywell's order, which was reported earlier by The Daily Beast, Finding Freedom had claimed that Samantha Markle had barely known her half-sister growing up, had "never been close" to her, and had been "handsomely paid" for an unflattering tabloid news story.
Later, asked by Ms Winfrey for her thoughts on Samantha, Ms Markle said: "When you talk about betrayal, betrayal comes from someone that you have a relationship with...
"But I grew up as an only child, which everyone who grew up around me knows, and I wished I had siblings. I would have loved to have had siblings."
When Ms Winfrey suggested the pair "weren't close" and "didn't grow up together", Ms Markle responded: "No."
Samantha disputed this, alleging that the pair had a "wonderful relationship" during childhood and that she had "regularly driven [Ms Marke] to school and helped her with her homework".
However, Judge Honeywell ruled that since no reasonable viewer would believe Ms Markle was suggesting she had no half-siblings or was not related to Samantha, those statements were simply descriptions of her subjective experience that could not constitute defamation.
Regarding the book, Judge Honeywell said Ms Markle could not be held liable for its contents because she did not publish it.