Paul Weller wins privacy action against the Mail Online

May 2014

Artistes, media


Paul Weller has won £10,000 damages after a number of pictures of his 16 year old daughter Dylan and then 10 month of twins John-Paul and Bowie were used on the Mail Online. The High Court in London ordered Associated Newspapers to pay the sum after Weller complained of an invasion of privacy on behalf of his family. Seven paparazzi photos were published in October 2012 under the headline “A family day out: Paul Weller takes wife Hannah and his twin sons out for a spot of shopping in the hot LA sun”. The couple said the shots were “plainly voyeuristic” : A paparazzo had followed the family on a shopping trip in Santa Monica, California, and took photographs without their consent despite being asked to stop.

In court, Associated Newspapers argued the images, in which the children’s faces were not pixellated, were entirely innocuous and inoffensive and the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to public gaze to a significant degree. The High Court found that whilst the images could have been published legally in California, their appearance in the UK violated the right to privacy enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 Mr Justice Dingeman said that  “There was no relevant debate of public interest to which the publication of the photographs contributed. The balance of the general interest of having a vigorous and flourishing newspaper industry does not outweigh the interests of the children in this case,”

Associated Newspapers said that the judgment “has wide-ranging and serious consequences. We intend to appeal”. Associated Newspapers said “The photographs showed nothing more than Paul Weller and three of his children out and about in public places” adding “There was no claim and no finding that we had followed, harassed or targeted Mr Weller or his children and no request had ever been made to pixellate the children’s faces” and “Our publication of the images was entirely in line with the law in California where they were taken by a freelance photographer”. The newsgroup further noted  “The suggestion that children have an expectation of privacy in relation to publication by the media of images of their faces when one child (now nearly 18) has modelled for Teen Vogue, images of the babies’ naked bottoms have been tweeted by their mother, and their father has discussed the children in promotional interviews is a worrying development in our law, as it has conferred unfettered image rights on all the children”.

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