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Last Updated:  Friday, 11 April, 2003, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
What the Hello! judge said
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas before their wedding in New York in 2000
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas wed in New York in 2000
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have won damages from Hello! magazine in their battle over unauthorised wedding photographs.

Here are extracts from the judge's 92-page ruling.

"I find the Hello! defendants to have acted unconscionably and by reason of breach of confidence they are liable," Mr Justice Lindsay's wrote in his ruling.

He said the wedding "was as private as was possible consistent with it being a socially pleasant event".

"The wedding was not a celebrity event and I accept Miss Zeta Jones's evidence that it was not intended to be one," he said.

I have no doubt but that Mr Douglas and Miss Zeta-Jones both suffered real distress
"Further, the Douglases had no need to and did not themselves take any steps to stir up publicity for the event.

"Even without any hype it was going to be, as Hello! later described it, 'the showbiz wedding of the year'.

"I have no doubt but that Mr Douglas and Miss Zeta-Jones both suffered real distress, though it is no present task of mine to attempt to put some compensatory cash value upon it."

That distress led the Chicago star to tears when she learned of the unauthorised photographs, he added.

The stars signed an exclusive 1m deal with Hello!'s rival, OK!, to publish wedding photographs.

"I see their expectation that an exclusive contract to one selected publisher offered the best strategy for obtaining a wedding of the kind they both wanted... as their chief reasons for making such a contract," Mr Justice Lindsay said.

The steps... were taken in a genuine and reasonable belief that thereby an offensive media frenzy would be avoided
A wedding was "an exceptional event" to any bride and groom, he added, and said the couple had the right to complain of intrusion despite being stars.

"It was an intrusion against which elaborate steps had been taken," he said.

"I have in mind too that the steps taken by the Douglases were not taken solely for reward or as hype but were taken in a genuine and reasonable belief that thereby an offensive media frenzy would be avoided," he said.

"As for the Hello! defendants, their consciences were, in my view, tainted; they were not acting in good faith nor by way of fair dealing.

"Whilst their position might have been worse had I held that the taking of unauthorised pictures for use by them had been truly commissioned in advance, even without that there is in my view enough to afflict their conscience.

The Hello! defendants had indicated to paparazzi in advance that they would pay well for photographs
"They knew that OK! had an exclusive contract; 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.

"The Hello! defendants had indicated to paparazzi in advance that they would pay well for photographs and they knew the reputation of the paparazzi for being able to intrude.

"The unauthorised pictures themselves plainly indicated they were taken surreptitiously."

But the couples' complaint about invasion of privacy was rejected because there was no privacy law and an action for breach of confidence provided necessary protection.

"So broad is the subject of privacy and such are the ramifications of any free-standing law in the area that the subject is better left to parliament," he said.

"A judge should therefore be chary of doing that which is better done by parliament.

"It is not been suggested that, even were there to be a law of privacy, the Douglases would be able to make any recovery greater than that which is open to them under the law of confidence as I have held it to be," he said.

The Hello! defendants broke their own industry's code
He concluded: "I hold the Hello! defendants to be liable to all three claimants under the law as to confidence.

"It will have been noted that an important step in my coming to that conclusion has been that, on balancing rights to confidence against freedom of expression for the purpose of granting or withholding relief, I have been required by statute to pay, and have paid, regard to the code of the Press Complaints Commission.

"The Hello! defendants broke their own industry's code.

"Unless the parties agree, there will have to be a further hearing to establish the amount for which the Hello! defendants are liable to the claimants."


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