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Hello! magazine's lawyers mock Zeta

May 19 2005

Western Mail

 

HELLO! magazine yesterday claimed victory in its epic legal battle over Catherine Zeta-Jones's wedding pictures - ridiculing the Hollywood star's decision to go to court.

Lawyers for the magazine mocked the Welsh actress's infamous statement that £1m was not a lot of money to her, by saying it had now cost her three times as much in court costs.

The Court of Appeal allowed Hello!'s challenge to a High Court order that it should pay more than £1m damages and another £1m in legal costs to rival magazine OK!, which had an exclusive contract to cover Zeta-Jones's wedding to Michael Douglas in New York.

The magazine's appeal against the ruling in favour of the Hollywood couple - who received £14,500 damages over privacy and breach of commercial confidence - was dismissed.

But the appeal judges threw out the couple's claim for more damages and OK!'s cross appeal based on unlawful interference with trade.

Hello! lawyer Chris Hutchings said, "Catherine Zeta-Jones famously said in her evidence that £1m was not very much money to her.

"To fork out three times that amount (in legal costs) to recover less than £15,000 defies all logic. This is a case that should never have come to court."

He said after the judgment was handed down that the ruling meant that his magazine's liability to OK! was now nil.

"The judgment is a resounding win for Hello!," he said.

"As a result of our win, Richard Desmond (owner of Express Newspapers and OK! owners Northern and Shell), will now have to write a cheque to Hello! for a very large amount of money indeed."

But a statement issued by Northern and Shell said the appeal court had "fully vindicated" the Douglases' action against Hello!

"This decision will impact on all publishers with exclusive rights as it means rivals will be free to run spoilers with no redress in law.

"OK! will therefore be appealing this judgment to the House of Lords."

 
 

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