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Star couple back in court
From correspondents in London
July 17, 2003

LAWYERS for Catherine Zeta-Jones and her husband Michael Douglas returned to the High Court in London for the second round of the couple's damages claim against a celebrity magazine they say breached their commercial and personal rights by publishing paparazzi photos of their wedding.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones
Justice John Lindsay, who ruled in April that Hello! magazine breached their commercial confidence by printing pictures of their $US2 million ($3.1 million) wedding at New York's Plaza Hotel in November 2000, must now decide the level of damages to award the couple.

The judge's ruling did not extend to a breach of their right to privacy, which he said was not protected under British law.

The new hearing, which is expected to last up to a week, will also determine the level of damages to be awarded to OK! magazine, which had a STG1 million ($2.5 million) deal for wedding exclusive pictures with the couple.

Alistair Wilson, the couple's lawyer, told the court today that the Douglases are entitled to compensation not only for the damage caused to their commercial rights but also for their personal distress.

"This is rather like a burglary when possessions are stolen and the value gone and at the same time you feel a senses of personal invasion of privacy," he said.

"This is a real distress quite separate from the value of possessions which have also disappeared."

Zeta-Jones and Douglas are seeking STG500,000 ($1.2 million) from Hello! while OK! publisher, Northern & Shell PLC, has asked for STG1.7 million ($4.2 million).

During the six-week hearing in April to determine liability, the couple testified that memories of their wedding day had been spoiled by the Hello! photos, one of which showed Douglas, 58, feeding his 33-year-old bride wedding cake.

Zeta-Jones said she was "devastated, shocked and appalled" and the case was not about the money.

"I get well compensated in my job and my husband has had a long career, financially successful, and it is a lot of money maybe to a lot of people in this room, but it is not that much for us," she told the court.

The Associated Press

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