A US-based paparazzi is suing Channel 7 for an interview with Meghan Markle’s estranged father, in which he claimed the photographer conspired to defraud him and sabotage the royal wedding.
Jeff Rayner, the co-owner of photo agency Coleman-Rayner, is suing Seven for libel in federal court over an interview aired on the network’s breakfast show last September, in which Thomas Markle Snr made a series of charges against him. did. including that he was associated with disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
Rayner denies the allegations.
Rayner was at the center of the scandal, which led to Thomas Markle Snr not attending his daughter’s wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.
Leading up to the top, Mr. Rayner took staged photos of Mr. Markle, which led to the breakdown of his relationship with his daughter.
In a transcript of the interview provided to the court, Mr. Markle is quoted as saying, “I was set up by a man named Jeff Rayner…And the whole thing was a plan to screw up the wedding and I made it happen.” just part of it.”
“Basically, they went to my oldest daughter and convinced my oldest daughter to convince me to have photos to clean up my image because I always looked bad because of the photos before that.”
According to a claim filed in court by Mr Rayner’s lawyers, Mr Markle added, “I regret it to this day because it was a total set up.”
According to court documents, Mr Markle allegedly said during the interview that he intended to sue Mr Rayner.
“If I don’t charge him, I hope to see him with (Harvey) Weinstein one day, because he also shot young women in front of Weinstein to make them look bad so they couldn’t charge him with rape,” he said. .
In his statement of claim, Mr. Rayner says the interview falsely portrayed him as “dishonest” and “frauding Mr. Markle (by deceiving his daughter Samantha) into participating in a photo shoot as part of a plan to destroy the royal family.” disrupt marriage.
He also claims it made a false accusation that he “conspired with Harvey Weinstein, a notorious rapist, to take compromising photos of Harvey Weinstein’s victims that could be used to discourage those women from suing Harvey Weinstein”.
Mr Rayner, whose mother and extended relatives live in Australia, said he had suffered pain, distress and embarrassment as a result of the interview, which damaged his personal and professional reputation.
Mr Rayner is also seeking higher damages, claiming that Seven should have known that Mr Markle would make defamatory remarks and that they had not pre-recorded the interview.
Sunrise hosts Natalie Barr and David Koch issued an on-air apology the following day.
However, Mr Rayner described it as inadequate and with a “sarcastic” and “flippant” tone.
An apology was also shared on the network’s news website.
“Seven had no intention of broadcasting such allegations and subsequently removed them from all versions of the program,” the statement said.
“We would like to apologize to the gentlemen mentioned by Mr Markle that the allegations were aired.”
Seven has yet to file a statement of defense and a court date has not yet been set.