Hannah Weller, wife of Paul Weller and mother of three of his children has called for a change in the law to make it a criminal offence for newspapers to publish photos of children without the consent of their parents. The Wellers had successfully sued MailOnline after it published photos taken in California showing the one-time Jam and Style Council frontman shopping with three of his children and his wife. The singer said the photos were “plainly voyeuristic” and a “blatant impediment to the natural social progress of children”, and were taken despite him specifically asking the photographer to leave them alone. The Mail argued that the paparazzi in question did not violate any Californian laws, the photos were harmless, adding that Weller had discussed his family in interviews, his wife had tweeted photos of their twin sons, and his teenage daughter had modelled with Vogue.
The High Court ruled that the MailOnline was part of a UK based media group Associated Newspapers, was governed by European privacy law regardless of where the photos were taken, and that the website had breached those laws by publishing the snaps. Weller was awarded £10,000 in damages. Hannah Weller has now said “it should be a criminal offence to violate any child’s right to grow up free from media intrusion. Our children are not famous people – most children are not famous” adding “As it stands, the decision about whether or not to thrust children into the media spotlight lies with the discretion of the editors of money-hungry newspapers and online gossip websites who are often more concerned with their own bottom line than the best interests of children. These people have shown repeatedly that they cannot be trusted to make the right choices and so it is time to take this decision from them and make it a criminal offence to expose children in this way”.