Hello! magazine's unofficial picture coverage of the wedding of Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas was a "stunt" dreamed up to damage its rival publication OK!, a British High Court judge heard.
Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, called as an expert witness on the subject of "spoilers", said the breach of OK!'s exclusive rights must have had a "devastating" effect on its sales of the wedding issue.
Mackenzie, now chairman and chief executive of The Wireless Group, was giving evidence for the Hollywood couple and OK! in a hearing to assess the amount of compensation they should be awarded against Hello! for breach of commercial rights.
The couple are also seeking damages for personal distress caused by publication in Hello! of pictures taken by an uninvited photographer at their November 2000 wedding in New York.
The total amount being claimed is around STG2.5 million ($A6.15 million).
MacKenzie told Justice Lindsay: "As editor of a national newspaper, I would pay a premium for exclusive photographs in order to increase sales of my newspaper and, if another publication had a photograph of the same subject matter, to reduce their sales figures."
The unauthorised pictures in Hello! would have satisfied the public's appetite for seeing photos of the wedding.
The front cover of Hello!, showing the Douglases smiling next to their huge wedding cake with smiling guests in the background, was "first-class", said MacKenzie.
"In fact, all the unauthorised photographs are great from an editorial point of view - they show everything: the couple, the dress, the cake, the wedding and the reception. After seeing these photographs there is no need to buy OK!"
The fact that The Sun and the Daily Mail, with a combined readership of 18 million, also published the pictures meant that more than a third of the UK population would have seen the unauthorised photos and therefore would have had no reason to buy OK!