Meghan and Harry may have rights to avoid pictures under ‘little tested law,’ says watchdog

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend a roundtable discussion on gender equality with The Queens Commonwealth Trust (QCT) and One Young World at Windsor Castle on Oct. 25, 2019 in Windsor, England. Jeremy Selwyn via Getty Images

British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner says the province has a “little tested law” that could provide protection for Prince Harry and Meghan from paparazzi while in the province.

Michael McEvoy says under the province’s Privacy Act there is a right for to privacy.

“Individuals do have the right of private action under the Privacy Act. This is a little tested law in British Columbia,” he said.

“I expect it would be a case that would be very much fact given. It could be a remedy for the royals or anybody else who believes their privacy has been unreasonably invaded.”

Click to play video: 'Harry and Meghan threaten to sue photographers' Harry and Meghan threaten to sue photographers
Harry and Meghan threaten to sue photographers – Jan 21, 2020

The couple’s privacy has taken centre stage as photographers continue to track them on Vancouver Island. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle issued a stern warning against photographers in Canada after paparazzi photos of Markle were published.

Story continues below advertisement

The Duchess of Sussex had photos taken of her while on a stroll with baby Archie in a public park on Vancouver Island, according to Sky News.

Per Sky’s reports, cited by Reuters, the couple’s lawyers claim the photos were taken without Markle’s permission, and that the photographer in question was spying on her while hiding in the bushes.

Click to play video: 'Security cost concerns if Harry and Meghan move to B.C.' Security cost concerns if Harry and Meghan move to B.C.
Security cost concerns if Harry and Meghan move to B.C – Jan 10, 2020

Attempts were also reportedly made to photograph them using long-range lenses while they were inside their home.

McEvoy says a judge would have to determine if the couple’s privacy has been infringed upon by these photographers.

“I don’t know if that kind of avenue exist in the U.K.,” McEvoy said.

“Hopefully at a certain point this issue will just exhaust itself. There will be point where there will be so many pictures they won’t be worth anything.”

Story continues below advertisement

Buckingham Palace announced on Saturday that Harry and Markle, 38, would no longer be working royals and would forfeit their rights to use their “Royal Highness” titles.

READ MORE: The biggest lawsuits filed by the royal family — from planted cameras to leaked nudes

Additionally, the Sussex couple announced that they’d be financially supporting themselves, living primarily in Canada and paying back British taxpayers for the multi-million dollar renovations on their Windsor home of Frogmore Cottage.

When in the U.K., they will also be paying rent for the use of the cottage, which was their first family home.

Harry and Meghan will maintain their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles.

READ MORE: Prince Harry joins Meghan Markle, baby Archie on Vancouver Island

The duchess returned to Canada on Jan. 10 to reunite with baby Archie, with whom she’s since been pictured walking around their new hometown.

McEvoy says there is a culture in Canada around privacy that is different than other places in the world.

“I think there is an issue here of organizations exercising some self-regulation and civility,” McEvoy said.

Story continues below advertisement

“People, no matter the titles given to them, have the right to go about without a constant state of surveillance.”

Media lawyer Dan Burnett says the couple’s expectation of privacy in Canada would depend on the situation, and that a claim by the media that photos were taken in a public place may not be enough, especially if children are involved or pictures were taken surreptitiously.

Burnett says court claims in B.C. for breach of privacy are based on whether reasonable expectations of privacy are violated.

— With files from Meaghan Wray, Global News and The Canadian Press

Sponsored content