MEGHAN is seeking an injunction to ban the naming of five friends in her High Court privacy row with her estranged father.
The Duchess of Sussex lodged a three-page witness statement accusing the Mail on Sunday of being vicious by threatening to identify them.
And she declares the women “are not on trial and nor am I”.
Meghan, 38, is suing the paper for publishing her handwritten letter to dad Thomas Markle, 75.
The newspaper claims her pals, referred to in court as Friends A to E, had already revealed the existence of the letter days earlier in People Magazine.
The true identity of her inner circle is contained in confidential documents submitted to the High Court last week.
They are set to be called as witnesses in the explosive case dubbed Markle vs Markle.
In the statement filed yesterday, Meghan says her friends chose to speak out “to defend me from the bullying behaviour of Britain’s tabloid media”.
She claims naming her pals breaches their privacy.
Meghan wrote: “These five women are not on trial, and nor am I.
“The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial.
“It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case — that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.
“Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy.
“Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.”
Her friends chose to defend her in People Magazine after finding her in distress, she claimed.
Meghan denies asking them to “correct things” or knowing they had been interviewed until it was published in February last year.
The Mail on Sunday says it printed the letter with Thomas’s permission after he was angry about it being misrepresented in the US mag.
A spokesman for the paper said yesterday: “To set the record straight, the Mail on Sunday had absolutely no intention of publishing the identities of the five friends this weekend.
“But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identities should be kept secret.”
Meghan and Prince Harry, 35, now live in LA after stepping back from royal duties. She angered courtiers last week by claiming in court documents she was left unprotected by the Royal Family.
The Duchess and her father, 75, are both set to give evidence on opposing sides at the trial, expected to take place at the High Court in London next year.
on on or EMAIL [email protected]