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 Sunday, 19 January, 2003, 00:24 GMT
UK newspaper defies German ban
Gerhard Schroeder
Schroeder faces another media court case later this month
A UK newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, has defied attempts by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to ban it from repeating allegations about his private life.

Days after Mr Schroeder obtained an injunction from a German court against its owners, the newspaper published claims about the chancellor's marriage.

We can publish this sort of material and believe we have every right to do so

Mail on Sunday
The newspaper said the injunction only applied if it repeated the story in Germany, adding that "for now, at least, we can ignore this blustering and these threats".

The BBC correspondent in Berlin says Mr Schroeder's injunction is believed to be intended as a warning to the media there.

'Different tradition'

In a strongly-worded rejection of the court order, the Mail on Sunday said it would not be bound by the ruling.

Mr Schroeder and Doris
The media has been told not to repeat allegations about marital problems

"Because of our different tradition and our robust democracy, we can publish this sort of material and believe we have every right to do so," it said.

The paper's editor, Peter Wright, said he did not accept that Chancellor Schroeder could use a German court to tell it what it could and could not report.

"Mr Schroeder is an important European leader and we believe it is right that our readers should be fully informed about matters that affect his chancellorship," Mr Wright said in a statement.

"We do not intend to start taking lessons from German chancellors or German courts about the freedom of the press," he said.

Penalty threat

On Friday a court in Hamburg ruled that the paper's owners, Associated Newspapers, could not repeat details of an article published earlier this month.

The paper faces a fine in Germany of up to 234,000 euros ($250,000) if it breaches the terms of the injunction.

This is not the first case involving the press and Mr Schroeder's private life.

His lawyers are due in court at the end of this month for a ruling on a challenge by two regional German newspapers, which the chancellor prevented from publishing articles about his sleeping arrangements with his wife Doris.

The papers, Maerkische Oderzeitung and Suedwestpresse, are trying to argue have invoked press freedom.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Katya Adler
"The court order is only one of a number of legal battles Mr Schroeder has been waging against media speculation"
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