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Last Updated:  Friday, 11 April, 2003, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Road to stars' court case
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones
Douglas and Zeta Jones gave evidence for one day

As Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas celebrate winning damages in their case against Hello! magazine, BBC News Online looks at how the case made it to London's High Court.

The nuptials of the Hollywood stars in November 2000 were set to be the celebrity wedding of the year.

The couple wanted it to remain a private affair - with just 350 close friends and family and no paparazzi.

Guests were frisked for cameras and professional photographers were barred except for one hired by the couple themselves.

The two actors had decided the best way to keep their wedding private was to strike a 1m deal with OK! magazine for exclusive pictures.

To have it trounced all over with someone else's size nine boots just seemed like a tragedy all round
Martin Townsend
Former OK editor
It was a technique they had successfully employed for the first photos of their two-year-old son Dylan.

But some people felt a New York hotel was not the best place to hold a private wedding.

They included the Marquesa de Varela, a Uruguayan aristocrat and celebrity fixer for the rival magazine Hello.

She told the BBC: "I think they were trying to keep it private in a very strange way.

"How can you have it private when you are staying there and you have to walk through all these corridors and get a lift and go all through all these hundreds of South American waiters. How can that be private?"

And a paparazzo photo did manage to sneak in. Rupert Thorpe, son of the former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe, was taking secret pictures with a camera held at his hip.

Biggest scoop

They were not good quality but Hello bought them and scooped its rival to the fury of OK's then editor Martin Townsend.

He had spent a year nurturing his relationship with Douglas and Zeta Jones to secure what would have been the biggest scoop of his career.

He told the BBC: "And I also was aware of the huge amount of work and care and love, frankly, that had gone into putting the wedding together and making it such a special day.

Exclusivity is not the way to maintain privacy, nor is exclusivity granted for that purpose
Eduardo Sanchez Junco
Hello owner
"To have it trounced all over with someone else's size nine boots just seemed like a tragedy all round."

Zeta Jones and Douglas managed to get a temporary injunction preventing Hello! being sold but this was overturned and the pictures appeared.

They were told their only remedy was to sue for damages for breach of privacy and confidence. OK sued too claiming there had been a conspiracy between the photographer and Hello.

Its lawyers produced a signed statement from the Marquesa saying she had bought the photos. She later said in court it was false, claiming Hello had asked her to sign it.

She said she did it in fear of losing her livelihood.

Heavily pregnant

"I told the judge I could not believe why I had done it. I knew it was not true and I kept saying to the assistant: 'I don't want to sign it because it is not true'".

More than two years after they married at the New York Plaza Hotel the furore began again as they jetted into London to give evidence at the High Court.

Zeta Jones, who was heavily pregnant, told the court the illicit photographs had made her feel "violated and that something precious had been stolen from me".

The most vindictive and mean-spirited act that you could imagine
Michael Douglas
On Hello pictures
"It was cheap and tacky and everything I didn't want as part of my special day."

Zeta Jones explained she had hand-picked the photographer who would supply OK! with the pictures and the couple had full control over what was published.

She complained one of the Hello! pictures made her look overweight, which in her industry could be damaging.

But Eduardo Sanchez Junco, the owner of Hello!, said the stars had tried to get the highest possible price for exclusive rights to their wedding pictures.

"The wedding was offered to various media, including ourselves, not in order to maintain privacy but solely in order to establish competition which would raise the price for exclusivity," he told the court.

He said the weddings of Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere had created less press coverage because they had not signed magazine deals.

"Exclusivity is not the way to maintain privacy, nor is exclusivity granted for that purpose," he added.

Tougher questioning was directed at Douglas who was defensive about the triviality of their claim amid accusations that the celebrity pair had over-reacted by bringing the case.

He called the aftermath of the wedding "a complete nightmare", a "truly gut-wrenching" experience and "the most vindictive and mean-spirited act that you could imagine".




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