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Click to here to read about the awards and nominate your heroes

DOUGLAS'S GET JUST 14,600 IN HELLO CASE

Nov 8 2003

*P.S. OK! MAGAZINE GOT £1,033,156

By Alexandra Williams

 

CATHERINE Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were awarded just 14,600 yesterday for "distress" caused by snatched pictures of their wedding.

The paltry sum was a fraction of the 600,000 the publicity-hungry pair had hoped to win from Hello! magazine, which upstaged a 1million deal OK! had signed with the couple.

During the High Court case, millionaire Douglas, 59, said that seeing pirated pictures in Hello! had been a "truly gut-wrenching and very disturbing experience, which left both of us deeply upset".

He added: "The days following our wedding, which should have been one of the most magical times of our lives, were suddenly turned into an exhausting nightmare of lawyers and injunctions."

Oscar winner Zeta-Jones, 34, who was reportedly paid 3million for her latest film Intolerable Cruelty, claimed the shots were tacky and made her look plump.

One showed her chomping on a piece of wedding cake.

The pictures were taken by paparazzi photographer Rupert Thorpe, the son of former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, who gatecrashed the wedding at the New York Plaza hotel in November 2000.

In the judgement in the High Court yesterday, Hello! was ordered to pay the couple 3,750 each for the distress they suffered, 50 damages under the Data Protection Act and 3,500 each to cover the cost of OK! running its pictures early.

OK!, which had sued for 1.75million, was awarded 1,033,156. Mr Justice Lindsay based his calculations on what OK! might have sold if Hello! had not printed its spoiler edition.

Another hearing will now have to decide who will pay the 4million legal costs of the case.

Following the judgement, both sides claimed victory.

Hello! publishing director Sally Cartwright said: "I don't know how OK! can regard it as a victory.

"We are very happy. It reiterates clearly the decision of the judge that Hello! at no time had any intention of damaging the Douglases. His decision to award them just 3,750 for distress reflects that view."

She said Hello! was "actively considering appealing" against the OK! award.

OK! lawyer Maninder Gill said: "We are delighted having won historic damages.

"The Douglases took the action as a matter of principle and are delighted that the judge's ruling vindicated their position and OK!'s position."

The couple are to give their award to The Family Learning Centre, a US charity.

Originally they had claimed 500,000 commercial damages from Hello! but in July they -demanded an extra 50,000 each for the distress they had been caused. In her evidence during the trial, Swansea-born Zeta-Jones shocked the court when she was asked about the 1million deal with OK!

She said: "It's a lot of money to people in this room, but it's not that much money to us."

When Judge Lindsay made his ruling in April, he threw out nine of the Douglases' 12 claims.

He said the couple and OK! magazine were entitled to damages under the law of confidence and data protection and granted an injunction to prevent further publication of the paparazzi snaps.

His decision was based on the fact that as both magazines had competed to cover the event, Hello! would have been well aware of the Douglases' need to prevent anyone else taking photographs.

But Hello! deliberately turned a blind eye to the manner in which the pictures were taken in their rush to spoil the OK! exclusive.

Judge Lindsay said the wedding was an exceptional event for any bride and groom and just because the Douglases were public figures it did not lessen their right to complain about intrusion.

But he rejected the couple's claim to damages under invasion of privacy and ruled that they were not entitled to aggravated or exemplary damages.

He also rejected the Douglases claim that there had been an unlawful conspiracy to get the pictures.

awilliams@

mirror.co.uk

 
 

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