Banned Ned RocknRoll Facebook pics were online for two years

The Sun argued in court today that it had a right to publish Facebook pictures of Ned RocknRoll partly because he sold pictures of his first wedding to Hello! magazine for £32,000.

The paper today lost its bid to overturn a privacy injunction brought against the paper by RocknRoll last week banning it from publishing the photos which were spotted by journalists on 2 January.

RocknRoll, the 34-year-old nephew of Sir Richard Branson, was granted an emergency interim injunction on the pictures last Thursday.

He claimed the photographs, which showed him at a private party wearing a fancy dress costume in July 2010, were "innocent but embarrassing".

Opposing the injunction, The Sun argued that publicaton of the pictures was in the public interest, citing the claimant’s recent marriage with actress Kate Winslet.

The newspaper, published by News International’s News Group Newspapers, also highlighted the fact that RocknRoll, formerly known as Edward Abel Smith, had previously “propelled” himself into celebrity status.

It emerged that RocknRoll had sold coverage of his first wedding, hosted on his uncle Branson’s Necker Island in 2009, to Hello! magazine for £32,000.

Among the high-profile guests at the ceremony, which saw RocknRoll marry heiress Eliza Cowdray, was Princess Beatrice.

The Sun’s counsel Desmond Browne QC suggested that RocknRoll should not be allowed to decide whether he receives positive or negative coverage in the press.

The newspaper also insisted there was nothing “illicit or underhand” about the way it obtained the photographs, which had been on the Facebook page of RocknRoll’s friend, James Pope, since July 2010.

Pope, who it was claimed has 1,500 'friends'on Facebook, took down the photographs on the night they were discovered by The Sun.

The newspaper claimed the photographs were in the public domain and that, contrary to Pope’s statement during the hearing, he, like many others, did not fully understand Facebook’s privacy settings.

The newspaper’s counsel said: “It is not merely the claimant’s conduct on 10 July 2010 and the public availability online... but the fact that a person behaving in such a fashion is the husband of a well known figure.”

Judge Mr Justice Briggs said he will give reasons for his decision to uphold the injunction in ten days' time.

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