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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 15:21 GMT
Zeta wins 14,600 Hello! damages
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas
Zeta Jones and Douglas said the photos "devastated" them
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have been awarded 14,600 from Hello! magazine for publishing paparazzi photos of their wedding day.

But the couple wanted 600,000 from the magazine after a photographer sneaked into their reception - ruining their exclusive 1m deal with OK! magazine.

The decision came at London's High Court on Friday toward the end of a three-year legal case.

OK! magazine, which sued Hello! with the couple, was awarded 1,033,156.

The Hollywood stars sued Hello! over the magazine's use of "sleazy" photos of their New York wedding in 2000.

The decision to award them that figure reflects the view that Hello! had no intention of damaging them
Hello! magazine
During the court case, Oscar-winner Zeta Jones, 34, told the judge she felt "devastated" and "violated" when she discovered "unflattering" paparazzi pictures had been taken.

The won a partial victory against Hello! in April when a judge ruled the magazine breached their commercial confidence.

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

On Friday, Judge John Lindsay rejected the couple's demands for "aggravated and exemplary damages".

The couple wanted 500,000 in commercial damages plus another 50,000 extra each in damages for "personal distress", comparing the photo ordeal to the distress of being burgled.

It's ample compensation for the trouble and distress caused to us over the last three years
Maninder Gill
OK! magazine
The 14,600 damages included 3,750 each for the emotional hurt caused.

"To a lady to whom 1m isn't a lot of money, I doubt she's going to notice 3,750," Hello! publishing director Sally Cartwright told BBC News 24.

"But to have to pay 1m to your competitor is hard."

A statement from Hello! said it was "very happy" with the award to the Douglases.

"The decision to award them that figure reflects the view that Hello! had no intention of damaging them," it said.

"We are obviously disappointed with the amount awarded to our competitor, OK! magazine."

'Disappointment'

OK! got less than the 1.75m they had sought from Hello!.

Judge John Lindsay said Hello! could only be blamed for publishing the photos - not the distress caused by the intrusion of the uninvited photographer.

The paparazzi wedding photos appeared in Hello! days before the official shots were published in OK!.

OK! lawyer Maninder Gill said the 1m award was "about right".

Right to privacy

"It's ample compensation for the trouble and distress caused to us over the last three years," he told BBC News 24.

"You can't evade a private event, evade security and take photographs and believe you're going get away with it unless there's a public interest."

He added that the court had decided to uphold the right to privacy under the confidence law.

OK! had argued sales of the wedding issue were a "huge disappointment" because its coverage was scuppered by its rival.

The outstanding issue of who must pay the 4m legal costs will be settled at a later two-day hearing.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Sillito
"The judge came up with a price for the distress"




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