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Last Updated:  Friday, 11 April, 2003, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Zeta Jones wins Hello! damages
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas outside the High Court
Zeta Jones and Douglas appeared in court for just one day
Hollywood couple Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have won a partial victory in their fight against Hello! magazine over the use of unauthorised photos of their wedding.

A High Court judge said the couple's commercial confidence was breached when Hello! infringed on the couple's exclusive 1m deal with rival OK!.

But he rejected their claim that the photos intruded on their privacy.

Damages will be awarded to the couple at a future date.

The stars, who are expecting their second child any day, sued the magazine over Hello!'s use of "sleazy" photos of their New York wedding in 2000.

They were seeking 500,000 in damages for invasion of privacy.

Hello! has indicated that it may appeal the judgement.

I find the Hello! defendants to have acted unconscionably
Mr Justice Lindsay

In a statement, Zeta Jones and Douglas said: "We deeply appreciate that the court has recognised the principle that every individual has the right to be protected from excessive and unwanted media intrusion into their private lives."

But High Court judge Mr Justice Lindsay rejected the couple's claim that the magazine breached their right to privacy because there was no such right under UK law.

The BBC's Nick Higham said: "He's decided there's no privacy law in Britain and he's not about to invent one. In that respect, Hello! are able to claim a degree of victory."

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Mr Justice Lindsay said Hello! had acted "not in good faith" and their consciences were "tainted".

'Trade secret'

The couple's deal to publish exclusive photographs in OK! magazine meant the wedding was a trade secret, Nick Higham reported.

They had a right to expect that it would remain secret until they released the pictures in a way they controlled and at a time of their choosing, our correspondent explained.

"[Hello!] knew that OK! had an exclusive contract," the judge ruled.

"As persons long engaged in the relevant trade, they knew what sort of provisions any such contract would include and that it would include provisions intended to preclude intrusion and unauthorised photography."

But Hello! was not involved in a conspiracy to get paparazzi pictures, Mr Justice Lindsay ruled.

This case was not brought about privacy but about a commercial deal - money and control
Sally Cartwright
Hello!
Hello!'s publishing director Sally Cartwright said nine of the 13 charges against the magazine had been dismissed.

She added that Hello! was cleared of any intent to damage the couple.

"The areas where he has found against us are, frankly, commercial ones," she said.

"These rulings bear out what we have always said - that this case was not brought about privacy but about a commercial deal - money and control."

The BBC's Nick Higham said: "This case has probably cost both sides between them about 3m.

"It puts the 1m OK! magazine paid for the pictures into some sort of perspective."

Landmark test

The ruling was seen as a landmark test of celebrity privacy rights, and Nick Higham said there would be relief among journalists that it did not establish a new law of privacy.

The court also said Hello!'s pictures should not be re-published anywhere in the media.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Celebrities can do what they like. They are the new gods of the Western world
Eddie Shaw-Smith, UK

Paparazzi wedding photos appeared in Hello! days before the official shots were published in OK! magazine.

OK! also sued for 1.75m in damages, saying Hello! deliberately set out to harm its business by encouraging paparazzi to get pictures of the wedding.

During the case, Oscar-winner Zeta Jones, 33, told the judge she was left feeling "devastated" and "violated" when she discovered "unflattering" paparazzi pictures had been taken.

The judge said there was no doubt that the couple suffered real distress and that the Chicago star had cried when she learned of the unauthorised photographs.

During the hearing, Hello! owner Eduardo Sanchez Junco said that the couple were more concerned with making money than protecting their privacy.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nick Higham
"The judge said Hello!'s pictures were intrusive but that the couple couldn't claim damages for the intrusion"



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