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Guides: Media and the law

Last Updated: Tuesday February 21 2006 15:47 GMT


Actor Vin Diesel is in the focus of photographers
Celebrities are in the news all the time.

Sometimes it's because they've done something connected to their job, such as starring in a recent film.

Sometimes it's because of something they've done in their private life.

Some people think that celebrities, like everyone else, have the right to keep their home life private.

Others think they give up that right when they became famous.

But what does the law say?

In October 2000, the European Convention on Human Rights, was incorporated in to UK law.

It says:

"Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence (meaning letters, emails etc)."

It also says:

"Everyone has the right of freedom of expression."

This law applies to everyone in the UK but there are some extra rules for newspapers and magazines.

They follow a set of self-imposed rules called the code of conduct.

This code, which is overseen by an organisation called the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), says:

"Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence. A publication will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. The use of long-lens photography to take pictures of people in private places without their consent is unacceptable. "

It also says:

"There may be exceptions where they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest."

The PCC code defines public interest as including, but not confined to:

  • Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety.
  • Protecting public health and safety.
  • Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation.
  • There is a public interest in freedom of expression itself.
  • The PCC will consider the extent to which material is already in the public domain, or will become so.

Guide to Media and the law

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