Mail denies taking calculated risks on breaching privacy

Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers has paid out around £50,000 to settle privacy disputes over the last two years, according to its legal chief Liz Hartley.

Appearing before the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions yesterday, Hartley said the publisher had faced 10 privacy cases since the end of 2009.

Some involved paying compensation while others involved covering legal costs and removing material from its websites.

Four of the cases related to photographs including one in taken in Germany, showing someone on a public beach, and two in France.

On average the payouts have been less than £10,000, but the largest sum which was £18,000 in Germany.

Associated also paid out £10,000 in another case that also involved defamation issues and intrusion into grief.

Hartley denied that Associated – which also publishes the Mail on Sunday and Metro – had a policy of taking a ‘calculated risk’when it comes to privacy issues.

‘At the time of publication you’re trying to take a very, very careful decision whether of not this is going to be intrusive,’she said.

Hartley added: ‘One of the cases was for disclosing what the flowers were going to be at a wedding.

‘I would personally regard that as at the more trivial end of somebody’s private information.

‘I wouldn’t have expected someone to complain about an article saying so-and-so’s getting married and they’ve chosen to have whatever flowers they were.

‘I wouldn’t regard that as a misuse of private information.’

Citing other cases, she continued: ‘Another one was over a photograph of an actor with his child in a car park, nothing intrusive about the photograph per se, but we took it down and made a contribution to costs.

‘Another one was somebody’s wedding, in a public place in Italy, that we discovered had been taken with a long-lens camera, which we felt was the wrong side of the PCC code.’

Hartley was also grilled by the committee on the Daily Mail’s coverage of the murder of Bristol architect Joanna Yates following the arrest of her landlord Chris Jefferies on suspicion of her murder.

In July the Mail and seven other newspapers – The Sun, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Record, Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Scotsman – paid undisclosed libel damages to Jefferies.

‘The articles were legalled and we accepted afterwards that the articles were wrong and defamatory of Mr Jefferies, and there was no attempt to prolong the litigation for him,’she said.

‘We and other newspapers made an offer of amends very quickly.”

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