Cox accused of 'bloodlust' over threat to sue People

The People apologised for printing nude pictures of Cox on honeymoon.

Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Sara Cox has been accused of "bloodlust" in threatening to sue the Sunday People under the Human Rights Act for publishing nude pictures of her on honeymoon.

Cox has already received a page-three apology from the newspaper after she complained to the Press Complaints Commission. By mid-week the People had still not received a writ.

At a media debate in London on Tuesday on whether celebrities should always have their privacy protected – "Leave me alone, I’m famous" – Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said of her threat: "All we’ve got now is bloodlust. Sara Cox is saying, ‘OK, even though I have got an apology, let’s run off to the lawyers and try and screw some money out of them’."

Earlier in the day, PCC director Guy Black sounded sceptical about the writ: "As far as the PCC is concerned, the complaint was sorted out to the satisfaction of Sara Cox, the wording and the prominence [of the apology] having been agreed with her.

"I would be flabbergasted if she now wishes to take lengthy and expensive legal action with uncertain results in three years’ time."

Even one divisional court hearing in the Anna Ford case against the PCC is thought to have cost in the region of £50,000.

At the debate, Cox had a champion in New Statesman columnist Lauren Booth, sister of the Prime Minister’s wife Cherie. She complained that all Cox was offered in redress for having her privacy intruded on was "a couple of lines saying, ‘a bit sorry; we messed up a bit’.

"This isn’t good enough. The fine line is nudity, taken with long lenses, and it is breaking some sort of private right. It must be stopped," she said.

"There does seem to be a widely held belief that celebs such as Sara Cox, because they have opened their lives, sometimes their bikini strings, to the press, are asking for these breaches into their rights to privacy."

Booth called for a strengthening of the Editors’ Code of Practice and described the nightmare of stars trying to "spike" stories detrimental to them. Celebrities often had to agree to speak to the newspapers concerned; "damned if they didn’t and damned if they did – you think you might as well take the twenty grand and they can know about the knob as well," said Booth.

It was left to PR man Max Clifford and magazine writer Toby Young to argue that celebrities already have enough effective means of controlling the press without resorting to legal action. "The stars get away with murder," said Clifford, pointing to their proactive PRs, lawyers and managers.

"They have an incredible amount of power. I have represented many stars who have sued the media for invasion of privacy when they were responsible for the stories in the first place.

I know because I was the person who tipped the press off."

Young railed against copy approval, picture approval, quote approval by the stars and claimed he was unable to do any more star interviews for Vanity Fair in the US after one actor and his PR machine had blackballed him.

By Jean Morgan

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