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NEWS
Douglas, Zeta-Jones win Hello! lawsuit

A judge in London ruled on Friday in favour of Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones in their high-profile lawsuit against British gossip magazine Hello! over photos of their wedding.

The High Court in London ruled that Hello! had breached the couple's rights of confidence when it ran paparazzi snaps of their glittering November 2000 wedding at New York's Park Hotel.

But their victory was partial, as Justice John Lindsay concluded that they had no legal claim to invasion of privacy.

The couple has been seeking £500 000 pounds ($786 000, €730 000) in damages from the magazine, but the final amount remains to be assessed at a further court hearing.

"We deeply appreciate that the court has recognised the principle that every individual has the right to be protected from excessive and unwanted media intrusion into their private lives," the couple said in a statement.

During several days of hearings, Zeta-Jones testified she felt "devastated, shocked and appalled" when she realized that paparazzi had gatecrashed the wedding, then sold their snaps to Hello!

The couple had already inked a one million pound deal with another gossip weekly, OK!, for exclusive coverage of the event, after turning down a higher offer from Hello!

Hello!'s owner Eduardo Sanchez Junco apologized to the couple in court, but argued that they were exaggerating the degree of distress that his magazine had caused to them.

OK! is separately suing Hello! for £1.75-million.

Reacting to Friday's judgement, Hello!'s publishing director Sally Cartwright said nine out of the 13 specific claims that Douglas and Zeta-Jones had made against the magazine had been thrown out by the judge.

"The areas where he has found against us are, frankly, commercial ones," she said, adding: "These rulings bear out what we have always said: that this case was not brought about privacy but about a commercial deal: money and control."

AFP

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