Douglases to receive just £14,600 from Hello!
CATHERINE Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas were left disappointed yesterday when a High Court judge awarded them less than £15,000 of their £600,000 damages claim against Hello! magazine.
Mr Justice Lindsay gave the couple a total of £14,600, but awarded Hello!’s rival, OK!, £1,033,156 for commercial damage to its exclusive coverage of the New York wedding in November 2000.
Despite the relatively paltry award, lawyers acting for the Hollywood couple hailed the result as historic and said they would be donating their damages to the Family Learning Centre.
Hello! said it was happy with the level of damages being given to the Douglases but added it would appeal against the damages awarded to OK!.
The court battle began when the couple and OK! made an application to prevent Hello! publishing the unauthorised pictures of their wedding.
An emergency injunction was granted but this was set aside three days later by the Court of Appeal, allowing the publication of the photo-graphs and setting the stage for the trial for massive damages.
The case has done little for the couple’s image in Britain, and Zeta Jones found herself pilloried by the press after commenting during the original case that while the £1 million pay cheque from OK! was "a lot of money for others, it is not that much for us".
An appeal judge had warned Hello! that if the injunction was lifted and it lost the subsequent case, it faced very substantial damages.
Mr Justice Lindsay referred to this yesterday when he awarded the seven-figure sum.
Sally Cartwright, the publishing director of Hello!, said the damages bill, plus any future court costs, will not threaten the future of the magazine.