Meghan Markle aide broke ranks over her bombshell texts days after her devastating Oprah interview

ROYAL aide Jason Knauf dramatically broke ranks to reveal bombshell texts and emails from Meghan Markle just weeks after her devastating Oprah interview aired.

Mr Knauf, 37, had repeatedly refused to help the Mail on Sunday in its bitter legal battle with the Duchess of Sussex – insisting he wanted to stay “neutral”.

But court papers revealed he had performed a screeching U-turn in the aftermath of THREE major royal crises.

First, in February, Meghan won her High Court case against the MoS over a leaked letter to estranged dad Thomas, 77.

In March, Buckingham Palace launched an official probe based on a complaint by Mr Knauf that she had bullied three members of household staff.

And days later the Duchess’ two-hour interview to US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey was aired, packed with explosive royal revelations.

They included claims a senior royal had asked how “dark” Harry and Meghan’s son Archie would be when born and how royal life had left her on the verge of suicide.

At the time, Mr Knauf was being represented by lawyers acting for three other royal aides dubbed the “Palace Four”.

On April 16, they made clear Mr Knauf still wished to stay “strictly neutral” despite repeated approaches from the MoS’s parent company, Associated Newspapers.

But on May 12, Mr Knauf announced he was stepping down from his royal roles.
Then at the end of July a “confidential source” approached the newspaper to tell them Mr Knauf had undergone a dramatic change of heart.

Harry and Meghan’s former press secretary had ditched his previous lawyers – and was now ready to talk.

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In a statement filed in the Court of Appeal, Keith Mathieson, a lawyer acting for the newspaper, said: “At the end of July 2021, the appellant received information from a confidential source that Mr Knauf regretted not providing a witness statement in these proceedings.

“As a result of that information the appellant sought again to make contact with Mr Knauf and subsequently with Mr Knauf’s new solicitor, Mr Pollard.

“In due course, Mr Pollard sent to us and to the claimant’s solicitors the signed witness statement which is the subject of this application.”

Mr Knauf’s decision raises major questions as to what finally prompted him to speak out.

His six-page witness statement yesterday set out in detail how the Duchess had carefully crafted the letter to her dad over several days.

It included text message and email exchanges with Meghan revealing how she called Thomas “Daddy” because “it would pull at the heartstrings” if it leaked.

Cold fury

Mr Knauf also set out how Harry and Meghan had authorised cooperation with the authors of the couple’s biography Finding Freedom.

But Meghan barely concealed her cold fury at her former aide in a 22-page witness statement filed into court yesterday in response.

In it she told how she was “puzzled” by Mr Knauf’s decision to include “private texts regarding deeply personal family matters”.

She also cast doubt on Mr Knauf’s evidence, adding “there are certain matters that I would not have shared with him.”

But Mr Mathieson’s five-page statement praised Mr Knauf in response, saying his “credibility and honesty seems to be common ground between the parties”.

And he added: “I believe the evidence of Mr Knauf is entirely honest and credible.
“It is entirely in Mr Knauf’s own words…

“Mr Knauf was plainly a central figure in the events he describes.

“He was a senior and trusted member of the royal household staff and he continues to occupy an important position as Chief Executive Officer of The Royal Foundation.

“His witness statement is measured in tone and he has been careful not to include evidence of matters beyond his own personal knowledge.

“Given the high profile nature of this litigation and the likelihood of his evidence (if admitted) being widely reported, as well as the position he holds, it is hardly conceivable that he would say anything he did not believe to be true and I know of nothing in his evidence which is subject to any reasonable challenge.”

Mr Knauf was previously the communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Prince William and Kate – and Prince Harry from February 2015 to May 2018.

After Harry and Meghan’s wedding he became communications secretary to both couples until March 2019.

And later that year he became CEO of the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation charity, a position he will step down from next month.

Two statements from Mr Mathieson were released yesterday on the final day of an appeal brought by Associated Newspapers.

The media group is trying to overturn a High Court ruling by Mr Justice Warby in February which gave summary judgment without a trial in Meghan’s favour.

He found the leaking of the Thomas Markle letter and the publication of its contents in the Mail on Sunday a breach of Meghan’s privacy and copyright.

And he ruled the letter itself was “inherently private and personal”.

Associated Newspapers want the judge’s ruling overturned so it can take it to full trial.

Meghan’s legal team oppose the appeal and say Mr Justice Warby reached the right conclusions on the evidence before him.

Yesterday Associated’s legal team claimed Thomas Markle had used the MoS to issue his right of reply to attacks on him by friends of Meghan in US magazine People.

Andrew Caldecott QC told the court: “Either we believe in freedom of expression or we don’t. Thomas Markle has been royally attacked in the People magazine…and this is his reply.

“If you read the People article we don’t know to what extent the allegations were authorised by the claimant or not.

“It is perfectly reasonable for Mr Markle to assume that the claimant was responsible.”

Three judges, Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos, Queen’s Bench Division President Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Bean, heard evidence and will give their ruling at a later date.

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