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 *  News Ewan McGregor wins privacy action

18/11/2003

The right to privacy received a boost last week as Scottish actor Ewan McGregor won a court action over the publication of unauthorised photographs of his children. Damages for breach of confidence and compensation under the Data Protection Act have yet to be assessed.

The photographs were taken secretly while McGregor and his family were on holiday in Mauritius, and were later published in some British newspapers, despite a general request by the actor not to publish pictures of his children.

McGregor sued the French based picture agency Eliot Press, and last week Mr Justice Eady granted his request for an injunction which will prevent the firm from re-publishing the photos.

A figure for damages has still to be set, and could affect future privacy actions. To date, damages have tended to be minimal in such actions because other factors were involved. There was a public interest element in a case brought by Naomi Campbell over pictures of her leaving a drug clinic; and similarly, in the Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones action over photographs of their wedding, the event was already subject to a commercial deal.

On this occasion, however, the uncontested breach of privacy relates to the children, not the celebrity, so the award could be much higher.

McGregor’s solicitor, Mark Thomson of Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners, told the BBC:

"The courts are moving more to protecting the privacy of individuals and children and using the law of confidence to do it."

Another action in respect of the original publication of the photos is still ongoing. According to the BBC, agency Fraser Woodward is disputing the claim for breach of the Data Protection Act.

See also: Nominal award for Douglas and Zeta-Jones, OUT-LAW News, 08/11/2003


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