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Minimal damages to Zeta-Jones over photos
Fri 7 November, 2003 14:54

By Matthew Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Hollywood stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have won just 14,600 pounds in damages from Hello! magazine, far short of the 500,000 pounds the couple wanted from the magazine for having published unauthorised photos of their wedding.

Hello! printed surreptitious pictures of the pair's star-studded 2000 wedding three days before official shots appeared in rival magazine OK!, which had signed a one million pound deal with the couple.

During a month-long case earlier this year in London, which the pair attended, Zeta-Jones called the photos sleazy and unflattering.

But at the High Court on Friday, judge John Lindsay ruled against them on several key points.

Although he said Hello! had breached the couple's rights of confidence, he ruled against their claim of invasion of privacy and rejected their demands for "aggravated and exemplary damages".

Hello! could only be blamed for publishing the photos, not for the distress caused by the intrusion of the uninvited photographer who took the secret pictures, he said.

But he did rule that OK! magazine was entitled to damages of 1.03 million pounds because their exclusive deal with Douglas and Zeta-Jones had been spoiled by Hello!

In a statement given to reporters after the ruling, Hello! said it was "very happy" with the level of the award to the Douglases.

"It reiterates clearly the decision of Mr Justice John Lindsay that Hello! at no time had any intention of damaging Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones."

As to the more than one million pounds it now owes OK! the magazine said:

"We are obviously disappointed as to the amount awarded."

OK! said in a statement the win was "historic".

Welsh actress Zeta-Jones, 34, who won an Oscar for her supporting role in "Chicago", had told the original hearing she had been outraged at the unauthorised photos, some of which showed her being fed cake by her husband. The photographer gate-crashed the New York wedding and secretly took pictures from a camera at his hip.

"I felt devastated...I felt violated," she told the court in March. "I did not want my husband shoving a spoon down my throat to be photographed...It is offensive."

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