UK DJ Sara Cox has been successful in an action against Sunday newspaper The People after the newspaper published nude shots of Cox and boyfriend John Carter on their honeymoon whilst relaxing on a private beach. Cox had originally complained to the UK’s Press Complaints Commission, the self-regulatory body which issues and adjudicates on the PCC’s code of conduct. The photographs which were in clear breach of the code resulted in a 63 word apology from the newspaper. Cox, unhappy with this result, brought an action in the High Court which resulted in a settlement awarding the DJ ÿ£50,000 as well as costs estimated at ÿ£200,000.
See: The Guardian 9 June 2003.
COMMENT : The result of this case is bad news for the Press Complaints Commission and bad news for self-regulation by the press in the UK. The Editor of the Sunday People sat on the PCC’s main committee as well as the code of conduct committee and the paper was clearly aware of the code. This case highlights the failures of the PCC and strengthens the case for more robust privacy laws in the UK. Recent cases (Naomi Campbell -v- Mirror Group Newspapers and Catherine Zeta Jones & Michael Douglas’s action against Hello! Magazine) have gone some way to establishing a limited right of privacy under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the law of confidence. A recent decision in the Court of Appeal held that photographs taken of suspects and convicts whilst in police custody were subject to a duty of confidence (the police wanted to use photographs of real criminals in a poster campaign) and the court highlighted the right of privacy under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. But generally the courts have been reluctant to establish a general right to privacy resulting from the introduction of the Human Rights Act, preferring to leave this to Parliament.
See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2970956.stm
and The Guardian 23 June 2003.