THE judge for Meghan Markle's case today dismissed her "stressed" dad Thomas' fears he will die before the trial comes to court.
It comes after she won a bid to delay the privacy court battle for almost a year over a "confidential" matter.
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The Duchess of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, for releasing a letter she wrote to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
Today Mr Justice Warby delivered his reasons for agreeing to delay proceedings in a largely redacted document, despite her dad warning "I could die tomorrow".
The judgment, released this morning, cited 76-year-old Thomas' poor health, describing him as "elderly and not in the best of health".
But despite noting Meghan's dad is "finding the process stressful", the judge said: "Mr Markle's subjective thoughts and feeling do seem to be, on any objective view, a relatively minor aspect of the case overall".
Thomas has not been told the reason for the nine-month delay, requested by Meghan's team, and is reportedly concerned about the wait.
In a previous statement to the court, the dad had said he wanted his chance to hit back on Meghan's claims his version of events are false.
He told of health worries, saying: "I am a realist and I could die tomorrow. The sooner this case takes place the better."
"Elderly and sick" Thomas, currently living in Mexico, claimed he struggles to walk 40 steps without getting out of breath.
Mr Markle's subjective thoughts and feeling do seem to be, on any objective view, a relatively minor aspect of the case overall.
He said he was pre-diabetic and clinically obese, having gained more weight during the coronavirus lockdown.
The ruling noted Thomas has been identified as a potential witness for ANL and considers the importance of his evidence.
Mr Justice Warby concluded: "It is not suggested that Mr Markle's evidence on those topics is an essential component of the defence case."
A ten-day trial was set to take place in London on January 11 next year, with Meghan, 39, possibly expected to give evidence in the witness box.
But last month Mr Justice Warby considered the request, made behind closed doors, and granted a delay until autumn next year – adding the reasoning was "confidential".
He also granted Meghan's request to apply for a summary judgment in the new year – meaning, if successful, she and her dad would not have to testify in public and the judge would decide the outcome behind closed doors.
Meghan's lawyers had also applied to appeal the judge's decision that saw the explosive biography Finding Freedom to be included by the defence in the trial. But Mr Justice Warby refused this.
Thomas Markle’s statement
This case is causing me anxiety and I want to get it over with as quickly as possible.
I am 76-years-old and as a result of my heart condition and surgery I am on blood thinners which have had an effect on my breathing. I am unable to walk far or up many stairs.
I can't manage to take more than 30 to 40 steps without getting winded and needing to slow down until I have caught my breath.
I have had a cold for 3 to 4 years which is connected to my heart and lung issues.
I am clinically obese and I have gained more weight during the past months before I have been unable to leave my house to take any exercise. I am pre-diabetic.
I don't know what the position will be in several months' time. I have not been back to Chula Vista hospital and although I see a local doctor and I am willing to see a doctor to have my heart and lungs checked, I do not want to know whether I now have cancer or any other serious conditions.
None of my male relatives has ever lived beyond 80 years of age.
I am a realist and I could die tomorrow. The sooner this case takes place the better.
Thomas Markle's ailments:
- Clinically obese
- A cold for three to four years
- Heart condition
- On blood thinners due to surgery
- Worried he might have cancer
The Mail on Sunday had been permitted to amend its defence that the Sussexes "co-operated" with the authors of the biography.
Finding Freedom is a tell-all about the Sussexes experience when they quit as senior royals in what become dubbed Megxit.
Earlier this year Meghan lost a court battle to block claims she allegedly co-operated with the authors of the book.
Last month 76-year-old Thomas said he wanted to get the trial done "as quickly as possible" due to his ailing health – and was planning to travel to London for the High Court showdown.
In a statement to the court in October, the dad said none of his male relatives had ever lived beyond 80 years of age, saying: "I am a realist and I could die tomorrow. The sooner this case takes place the better."
The "elderly and sick" man, who currently lives in Mexico, also detailed his health concerns including struggling to walk 40 steps without getting out of breath.
Associated say she wrote the letter knowing it would get into the public domain.
She denies it and is suing for invasion of privacy, copyright infringement and data protection rights.
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