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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Naomi Campbell wins privacy case
Naomi Campbell
Miss Campbell will receive the High Court damages of 3,500
Supermodel Naomi Campbell has won her breach of confidentiality claim against the Daily Mirror.

By a three-to-two majority, the Law Lords overturned an Appeal Court ruling that the Mirror had been justified in publishing information about her.

Miss Campbell had objected to the publication of pictures of her leaving drug addiction treatment in early 2001.

The Appeal Court had ordered her to pay the paper's 350,000 legal costs after overturning a High Court ruling.

Lord Hope, who voted in favour of Miss Campbell, said on Thursday: "Despite the weight that must be given to the right to freedom of expression that the press needs if it is to play its role effectively, I would hold that there was here an infringement of Miss Campbell's right to privacy that cannot be justified."

It is not possible to sue for invasion of privacy in Britain, but experts say the ruling could have serious implications for the way the media covers the private lives of celebrities.

This is a very good day for lying drug-abusing prima donnas who want to have their cake with the media, and the right to then shamelessly guzzle it with their Cristal champagne
Piers Morgan
Daily Mirror editor

The case centred on the publication in February 2001 of a report about her drug addiction, including a photograph of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in King's Road, Chelsea.

Miss Campbell's lawyer Keith Schilling said the supermodel was "delighted" with the ruling.

"It is not only a vindication for her personally but, more importantly, represents a real advantage for the rights of people to maintain important elements of their privacy, particularly when related to therapy and people who need to have treatment."

The Law Lords reinstated the High Court award of 3,500, based on breach of confidentiality and breach of duty under the 1998 Data Protection Act.

The judgment leaves the Daily Mirror facing a total legal costs bill of more than 1m.

Lords Nicholls and Hoffmann said they would have dismissed Miss Campbell's appeal and found for the Mirror.

Lord Hoffmann said: "From a journalistic point of view, photographs are an essential part of the story.

"The picture carried the message, more strongly than anything in the text alone, that the Mirror's story was true."

Feb 2001: Mirror publishes photo of Naomi Campbell leaving Narcotics Anonymous in London
March 2002: Campbell successfully claims breach of privacy. High Court orders 3,500 damages from Mirror
Oct 2002: Appeal Court overturns High Court ruling
May 2004: Law Lords overturn Appeal Court decision, reinstating High Court ruling and damages

Commenting on the judgment, Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan said: "This is a very good day for lying drug-abusing prima donnas who want to have their cake with the media, and the right to then shamelessly guzzle it with their Cristal champagne.

"Five senior judges found for the Mirror throughout the various hearings in this case, four for Naomi Campbell. Yet she wins.

"If ever there was a less deserving case for creating what is effectively a back door privacy law it would be Ms Campbell, but that's showbiz."

Media lawyer Mark Stephens told BBC News 24 the privacy laws in Britain remain "incredibly confused...and the judges have been grappling with it" as evidenced by the split decision.

"The much hoped-for clear guidance on the law of privacy hasn't yet been put forward. The law will remain in a state of flux for some considerable time yet."

Celebrity publicist Max Clifford said the ruling would not make any difference to newspapers wanting to publish such pictures in the future.

"Editors will look at every situation and judge them on their own merits," he told BBC News 24.

He said that it was unlikely the government would introduce a privacy law as such a move would antagonise the press.

However, he added that celebrities already had "far too much protection - and I say that as someone who is paid a fortune to protect them all the time".

The BBC's Nick Higham
"For the paper's editor it has been a tempestuous week"

A user's guide to privacy
26 Feb 03  |  UK News
Mirror wins Campbell appeal
14 Oct 02  |  UK News

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