High Court hears Weller privacy trial

Privacy claim brought by musician’s children in respect of MailOnline photographs

On 24-27 March 2014 the High Court heard the trial of a claim brought by three of Paul Weller’s children against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) in respect of the publication of seven photographs on ANL’s website, MailOnline, in October 2012. The Claimants, represented by 5RB’s David Sherborne, allege that the publication of the photographs of them on a family outing with their father in California amount to a misuse of their private information given that they show the Claimants’ unpixillated and unobscured faces (two of whom were 10 months old at the time). The Claimants also point to the fact that the photographs were taken by a paparazzo who followed them around Santa Monica Boulevard and took photos after being asked to stop doing so by Mr Weller. The claim is brought by Mr Weller on behalf of his children.

ANL submitted that (1) the photographs did not engage the Claimants’ Article 8 ECHR right to respect for private and family life as there was no reasonable expectation of privacy, and (2) even if they did, those rights were outweighed by ANL’s Article 10 ECHR right to freedom of expression. ANL also argued that the court should take into account the relevant local law (i.e. Californian law) when deciding whether the Claimants had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Both parties referred extensively to recent domestic case law on photographs and privacy, including Murray v Big Pictures, AAA v Associated Newspapers Limited, and Rocknroll v News Group Newspapers.

Mr Justice Dingemans heard evidence from Mr and Mrs Weller, amongst others, and lengthy submissions on both domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence over the course of the 4-day hearing before reserving his judgment.