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'Zeta deserves win' say Swansea folk

Apr 12 2003

Robin Turner, The Western Mail - The National Newspaper Of Wales


CATHERINE Zeta Jones may have been criticised for turning to the courts, but in her home town of Swansea yesterday she found plenty of support.

Zeta Jones and her husband Michael Douglas won a partial victory against Hello! magazine, but will have to wait until later this month for High Court judge Mr Justice Lindsay to set the exact amount of their damages.

The superstars, who are expecting their second child over the next few days, sued the magazine over "sleazy" unauthorised photographs of their New York wedding in 2000, and have claimed 500,000 compensation.

A friend of the actress's family in Swansea said yesterday, "We are just glad it's all over because Catherine has other things to worry about.

"The important thing was the judge said Hello! was wrong to publish its photo-graphs."

Claire Leahey, of Swansea, who went to school with Catherine, added, "She has been hounded by the press and magazines and I'm glad to see she's had a victory against them at last."

John Warman, the former Mayor of Neath and an ex-member of the now defunct Press Council, who now heads the UK-wide campaign group Protection of Privacy, was delighted yesterday.

He said, "The full implications of the judgment will have to be pored over in detail but it says in effect newspapers and magazines cannot do just what they want.

"Catherine Zeta Jones wanted her big day to be filmed in a certain way.

"A magazine motivated by profit sought to do something different and now they will pay the price.

"The courts have been very weak over the issue of privacy in the past but at least this seems to indicate that individuals have some rights when it comes to their own images and how they are portrayed." Mumbles businessman Tony Cottle, who believes Zeta Jones has brought a huge boost to tourism in the area, said, "The general feeling here is that Catherine has been unfairly hounded in the past. Now she's had her own back in part at least.

"I think she would have done more interviews with the press and media if she had not been chased after wherever she went. When she married Michael Douglas in particular it seemed they could go nowhere without a pack of photographers chasing them.

"This judgment gives her some sort of say in how she is treated by the media and that can only be a good thing.

"We want Catherine to feel she can come home to Swansea and Mumbles and have a walk about.

"I had two people from China in my shop yesterday who said that while visiting Britain they wanted to see where Catherine Zeta Jones grew up.

"She does wonders for this part of the world and we would like her to have some protection whenever she wants to come back."

Media expert Roy Greenslade said , "There is no privacy law in Britain and the judge was not going to invent one.

"In that respect Hello! was able to claim a small degree of victory.

"What could happen in future is that newspapers and magazines may weigh up what they might have to pay out in court against the benefits of printing unauthorised pictures - it will be interesting to see the level of damages."

Among the 350 guests at the New York wedding was a large contingent of Catherine's family and friends from Swansea, including her parents Pat and Dai and singer Bonnie Tyler.

Security was said to be close to "paranoid" with members of a Pennsylvania-based Welsh male voice choir hired to provide entertainment frisked for cameras before they went in.

All the guests plus florists, caterers and waiters had to sign confidentiality agreements.

And invitations to the 1.2m wedding were in invisible ink which would only show up under special scanners.

Zeta Jones said at the court case, "The purpose of the security arrangements was to prevent access by the media so we could enjoy our wedding day." Do you think the Hello! court case has damaged Catherine Zeta Jones's reputation? Vote on our website www.icwales.co.uk See the results on Monday.

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