The Duchess of York’s compensation claim against Rupert Murdoch over a cash-for-access sting that she says destroyed her reputation could leave her with a legal bill of more than £2.3million.
New documents show Sarah Ferguson’s legal fees are likely to reach £1,354,056 by the time her £40million action against the publisher of the now defunct News of the World reaches the High Court, possibly in the autumn.
The newspaper’s costs are estimated at £951,195, and she could be ordered to pay them as well if she loses her battle for what she claims are loss of earnings since the story tainted her public image.
The documents show the Duchess has already spent £321,556 on legal action against News Group Newspapers and ‘fake sheikh’ journalist Mazher Mahmood, and has gone over budget on agreed or approved costs by £120,000.
The Duchess of York has filed a compensation claim against Rupert Murdoch over a cash-for-access sting that she says cost her £40million in lost wages
In the sting, she was filmed offering to arrange introductions to her former husband Prince Andrew in exchange for money, but later claimed she was ‘in the gutter’ at the time and had been ‘tricked’ by the newspaper.
The Mail on Sunday revealed in 2016 she was suing for £25million, but last month disclosed she had upped that to more than £40million.
Painting herself as a businesswoman and entrepreneur, she said potentially lucrative projects – ranging from book and film deals to celebrity endorsements – had virtually dried up after the story.
She said she missed out on £4.8million for personal appearances, £22million for two planned television animation shows and £8.6million on a deal to promote health products. Lawyers for Mr Murdoch’s publishing company have dismissed her claims as ‘defective’.
But the Duchess, 58, has faced long-standing financial problems, and questions have been raised about how she will find the cash to fund her legal battle.
Her legal fees are likely to reach £1,354,056 by the time her £40million action against the publisher of the now defunct News of the World reaches the High Court
Brought up by her polo-playing father Major Ronald Ferguson, her penchant for first-class air travel and lavish gifts, as well as her apparent willingness to cash in on her Royal connections, has caused concern.
Since her divorce, she has tried her hand at a range of enterprises, with varying degrees of success.
Her children’s books about Budgie The Helicopter, and bids to re-invent herself as a TV host, film-maker and the US face of Weight-Watchers, earned money, but she still ran up huge debts. At one point she owed Coutts Bank almost £2million, but she later paid off her debts.
She once said she had ‘little understanding’ of money, adding: ‘I’m not just emotionally bankrupt, I’m continually on the verge of financial bankruptcy.’ She has remained on friendly terms with Prince Andrew.
A spokesman for the Duchess declined to comment.