American paparazzi sued Channel 7 over an interview with Meghan Markle’s father in which he claimed the photographer conspired to set him up and sabotage the royal wedding.
Jeff Rayner, co-owner of photo agency Coleman-Rayner, is suing Seven for libel in federal court over an interview that aired on the network’s breakfast program last September in which Thomas Markle Sr. made a number of accusations against him, including that he was involved with disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
Reiner denied the allegations.
Reiner was at the center of a controversy that resulted in Thomas Markle Sr not attending his daughter’s wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.
In the run-up, Mr Rayner took staged photos of Mr Markle, which led to the end of his relationship with his daughter.
The transcript of the interview provided to the court quotes Mr Markle: “I was set up by a guy named Jeff Reiner… And it was all a plan to ruin the wedding and I was just part of it. ”
“Basically, they went to my oldest daughter and convinced my oldest daughter to convince me to take photos to clear my image, because photos before that always made me look bad.”
According to the lawsuit filed by Mr Rayner’s lawyers, Mr Markle added: “I regret it to this day because it was a complete set-up.”
Mr Markle said during the interview that he intends to sue Mr Reiner, according to court documents.
“If I don’t manage to sue him, I hope to see him with (Harvey) Weinstein someday because he also filmed young women for Weinstein to make them look bad so they couldn’t sue him for rape.” “, – he said.
In his lawsuit, Mr Rayner says the interview falsely portrayed him as “dishonest” and “cheating Mr Markle (by tricking his daughter Samantha) into taking part in a photo shoot as part of a plan to crash the royal wedding.”
He also claims it was a false accusation that he “colluded with Harvey Weinstein, a notorious rapist, to take incriminating photographs of Harvey Weinstein’s victims that could be used to dissuade these women from filing a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein.” “.
Mr Rayner, whose mother and extended family live in Australia, said he was hurt, distressed and embarrassed by the interview, which damaged his personal and professional reputation.
Mr Rayner is also seeking aggravated damages, arguing that Seven should have known that there was a possibility that Mr Markle would make defamatory comments and that they did not pre-record the interview.
The following day, Sunrise hosts Natalie Barr and David Koch apologized on live television.
However, Mr. Reiner called it inadequate and having a “sarcastic” and “frivolous” tone.
The apology was also posted on the network’s news website.
“Seven had no intention of broadcasting such claims and subsequently removed them from all versions of the program,” the statement said.
“We would like to apologize to the gentlemen Mr. Markle named for airing the allegations.”
The seventh has not yet filed a defence, and a trial date has not yet been set for the case.
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