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Britain's high court rules "supermodel" suffered privacy invasion

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Britain’s high court rules “supermodel” suffered privacy invasion

  • Fashion model Naomi Campbell won an invasion of privacy case in Britain’s House of Lords, overturning an appellate court decision in favor of the London-based Daily Mirror newspaper.

May 10, 2004 — “Supermodel” Naomi Campbell last week won her privacy case in Britain’s House of Lords, the country’s highest court. The Law Lords ruled 3-2 that the London-based Daily Mirror invaded Campbell’s privacy when it ran a story in February 2001 about her drug problems.

Overturning an appellate court decision that Campbell’s drug addiction and therapy was a subject of legitimate public interest, the House of Lords determined that Campbell suffered an invasion of privacy and a breach of confidence when the Daily Mirror published details of her drug addiction, including a photograph of her leaving a treatment center.

“Despite the weight that must be given to the right of freedom of expression that the press needs if it is to play its role effectively, I would hold that there was here an infringement of Miss Campbell’s right to privacy that cannot be justified,” Lord Hope wrote, according to a May 6 Reuters story.

Baroness Hale added that Campbell’s substance abuse and treatment was not a “legitimate” subject of media coverage.

The judges reinstated the trial court’s award of 3,500 pounds ($6,700) in damages.

The Daily Mirror won an appellate court ruling after losing the case at trial. The appeals court determined that the newspaper was entitled to report the falsity of Campbell’s public statements that she did not use drugs. The court further held that the photographs did not invade her privacy because they had been taken in a public street and not through covert means.

The newspaper may choose to appeal the House of Lords decision at the European Court of Human Rights, under Article 10 of the European Convention, which covers freedom of expression. The European Court has jurisdiction over all European Union countries and can decide appeals from individuals within EU countries.

“This is a very good day for lying, drug-abusing prima donnas who want to have their cake with the media, and the right to then shamelessly guzzle it with their Cristal champagne,” Mirror editor Piers Morgan said in a statement.

(Campbell v. Mirror Group Newspapers) KM

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