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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
Privacy pendulum swings against stars
Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell faces paying out 200,000

The Naomi Campbell judgment was always a confusing one, so it comes as no great surprise that three Appeal Court judges have overruled it.

After printing an article about the supermodel's drug addiction, and pictures of her leaving a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous, the Daily Mirror had been faced with paying her 3,500 damages and both sides' costs, amounting to 200,000.

Now it is she who must pay the costs of both cases, estimated at almost 750,000.

Perhaps more importantly, the privacy pendulum has swung back in favour of the media.

This follows a series of legal cases in which celebrities had tried to establish a right to privacy under the Human Rights Act, giving them hope that they had found greater protection from tabloid intrusion.

Little wonder that the Mirror editor Piers Morgan described it as "a wake-up call to all celebrities queuing up to take on the media".

Receiving therapy

The original judge, Mr Justice Moreland, stated that Naomi Campbell had lied on oath and he doubted the truth of her evidence.

He said the Mirror had been entirely justified in revealing that she had been a drug addict - which she had publicly denied - and also the fact that she had been receiving therapy.

Yet he still awarded her 3,500 damages.

Apparently, in attempting to prove the accuracy of its story, the Mirror had gone too far.

Jamie Theakston
Jamie Theakston's case also courted publicity

By publishing the information that she had visited the drug clinic the paper had committed a breach of confidence and a breach of the Data Protection Act.

Now the master of the rolls Lord Phillips, with two other appeal court judges, has dismissed this analysis.

He said it would have "bordered on the absurd" for the Mirror to state baldly - without corroboration - that "Naomi Campbell is a drug addict.

"The Mirror has discovered that she is receiving treatment for her addiction."

Lord Phillips said the photographs and extra information "were a legitimate, if not an essential, part of the journalistic package designed to demonstrate that Miss Campbell had been deceiving the public when she said that she did not take drugs."

This is the latest of several rulings this year that have come down in the media's favour.

'Unjustifed interference'

In the case of the footballer Gary Flitcroft, three Appeal Court judges overruled an injunction he had obtained against the Sunday People, preventing the paper from revealing a "kiss and tell" story about him.

The judges said it was "an unjustified interference with freedom of the press".

In the case of Jamie Theakston, a judge allowed the same paper to publish details - though not photographs - about a visit he had paid to a brothel.

Mr Justice Ouseley said the prostitutes had a right to publish their story.

He had seen interviews in which Mr Theakston had discussed his private and sexual life and he could not complain if the publicity in this instance was less favourable.

Celebrities should now think twice before expecting judges to protect them from media reporting.

See also:

14 Oct 02 | UK
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