A major paparazzi agency is facing serious financial issues.
According to E! Online, Splash News and Picture Agency filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday, citing the global pandemic as a contributing factor as well as the mounting costs of “two ongoing litigation cases”—one of which involves Meghan Markle. The Duchess of Sussex had sued the company over photos taken during a “private family outing” in Canada. The parties reportedly settled the complaint in late 2020; however, it seems Splash News has struggled to financially recover.
The agency’s president Emma Curzon indicated the Markle lawsuit was one of two litigation cases that have put Splash News in the red. She also said the COVID-19 crisis played a significant role in their money issues, as the lockdowns made it difficult to take celebrity photographs.
“The claims are disputed but unfortunately ongoing attorney bills have drained, and continue to drain, cash from the business,” Curzon noted in the filing. “Splash is unable to continue with the financial burden to defend these claims … As a consequence of the global pandemic the availability of celebrity images has declined and budgets within media companies have been cut to reflect wider macro-economic challenge.”
Splash News is also being sued by Esmeralda Servin, a former employee who says she was subjected to sexist remarks while at the company and was wrongfully terminated.
“This situation has been exacerbated by two ongoing litigation cases and the costs of defending these cases. These cases are in the United Kingdom and United States …” Curzon continued. “The plaintiffs in the United Kingdom litigation … are seeking various forms of injunctive relief. The case involves free speech related issues under United Kingdom law and, unfortunately, has proven to be too unbearably expensive for Splash to continue its defense.”
Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, recently sat-down with Oprah for an exclusive primetime interview. Markle opened up about her mental health struggles, instances of racism, and why she and her family decided to leave England.