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Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 15:11 GMT
Zeta Jones can sue Hello!
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones
The couple have been the subject of intense media interest
The Court of Appeal has ruled that Hollywood couple Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas will be able to sue Hello! magazine for publishing unauthorised photos of their wedding.

The landmark ruling recognised that celebrities, as well as ordinary members of the public, have rights to privacy.

The court said that Hello! had violated those rights.

The bill which Hello! will have to pay is likely to be enormous

Lord Justice Brooke

Hello! magazine published photographs of the couple at their New York wedding last month after the couple had signed a exclusive deal with rival publication OK!, said to be worth 1m.

The couple won an injunction at the High Court to prevent Hello! printing further copies of the magazine, after 15,750 copies had already been put on sale.

This was then overturned on 23 November by the Court of Appeal, which explained on Thursday that it had not felt an injunction could properly protect the couple's privacy.

Lord Justice Brooke said that if the couple and OK! magazine were to sue Hello! they would have the support of English law in protecting the right to personal privacy.

If they succeeded, "the bill which Hello! will have to pay is likely to be enormous", he said.

"But this is a risk it decided to take, with its eyes open, after we discharged the injunction," added the judge.

He said the couple were likely to succeed with legal action on the grounds of confidentiality.

Lord Justice Sedley said there was "a powerfully arguable case" that they had a right of privacy.

Ban

The two appeal judges said they had "misgivings" that the couple's privacy could not have been protected by an injunction, but it could be compensated for by damages.

The couple went to stringent lengths to control media access to their wedding and banned guests from bringing photographic equipment.


It can be said with confidence that the law recognises and will appropriately protect a right of personal privacy

Lord Justice Sedley

Guests at the wedding were told that cameras and video equipment would be taken from them at the ceremony and reception.

OK! paid what Lord Justice Brooke called "a very large sum of money" to the couple for the rights to all the wedding photographs.

Hello! had made a higher bid for the exclusive rights but had been turned down by the couple, said the judge.

Lord Justice Sedley said the courts had reached a point "which it can be said with confidence that the law recognises and will appropriately protect a right of personal privacy".

He added: "What a concept of privacy does, however, is accord recognition to the fact that the law has to protect not only those people whose trust has been abused, but those who simply find themselves subjected to an unwanted intrusion into their personal lives."

Catherine Zeta Jones had another piece of good news on Thursday - she has been nominated for a Golden Globe for best supporting actress in her role in Steven Soderbergh's film Traffic, in which she stars alongside her husband.

And Douglas was not left in the shade - he has also been nominated as best actor for his role in Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys.

See also:

05 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Zeta Jones attacks wedding critics
05 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Berlin honour for Douglas senior
04 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Zeta Jones and Douglas' press battle
23 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Zeta photo ban lifted
23 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Zeta's 'secret wedding video'
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