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Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 00:34 GMT 01:34 UK


PCC upholds Sir Paul's privacy

Sir Paul complained after pictures taken in Paris were published

Sir Paul McCartney has welcomed a ruling by the Press Complaints Commission which upheld complaints against a magazine for invading his privacy a month after the death of his wife Linda.

The Commission said Hello! magazine had been deeply intrusive by publishing photographs taken of Sir Paul and his children in Paris.

The former Beatle complained about photographs of him with his family in the May edition.

[ image: Linda McCartney died in April]
Linda McCartney died in April
The photographs, under the headline "A month after losing wife Linda - Sir Paul McCartney - Getting by with a little help from his children" showed Sir Paul, his son and one of his daughters walking in Paris.

They were also pictured sitting by the Seine and eating lunch outside a cafe.

One picture showed them inside Notre Dame cathedral, and described how they "lit a candle for Linda and took some time to meditate in peace".

Sir Paul said he was unaware his family had been "stalked" by photographers, who had taken "highly intrusive photographs of us in our most private moments at this very difficult time in our lives".

He did not believe publication of the photographs could be justified in any way.

The magazine's editor Maggie Koumi said it had not commissioned a photographer to "stalk" the family, the photographs had come from news agencies.

She said the pictures were not taken secretly since one showed Sir Paul and his son walking towards the camera.

Ms Koumi conceded the photograph in the cathedral should not have appeared, saying it was added by Hello!'s Madrid office without her knowledge.

'Deeply intrusive'

She wrote directly to Sir Paul to apologise for any distress caused and added: "They were such loving pictures of you all that we were touched to see your wonderfully close relationship - which is, I am certain, what readers also felt when they saw them."

The Commission noted the Code made absolutely clear that editors were responsible for the content of their publications.

The Commission said it was clear that Sir Paul felt the photographs to be deeply intrusive and the Commission agreed.

It did not believe the public interest was served by showing how "wonderfully close" his relationship with his children was.

In particular, the Commission deplored publication of the photograph of the family inside the cathedral.

'Deep grief'

It has stated before it "expects journalists to respect the sanctity of individuals' acts of worship" and believes that a cathedral is a clear example of a place "where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy", as defined in the Code of Practice.

Complaints under clauses covering privacy and intrusion into grief and shock were upheld.

A McCartney family spokesman said: "It is heartening to know that the Press Complaints Commission will so strongly condemn these insulting intrusions into privacy.

"No family, famous or not, deserves to be stalked by photographers at a time of deep grief.

"The PCC ruling is not only a victory for decent human values, it is also a milestone adjudication in defence of anyone who finds themselves hounded merely because of questionable news values. We hope that this is a lesson for common decency and respect."

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