By Roger Pearson The epic legal battle between Hello!
OK! over illicit paparazzi photographs of the wedding of Michael
Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones is to go to the House of Lords.
and Zeta Jones ended their role in the case two years ago, having been
awarded damages of £14,600 between them for breach of privacy, but the
two rival magazines are still fighting over whether Hello!’s decision
to print spoiler pictures broke OK!’s legal contract with the couple.
Desmond-owned OK! originally won just over £1m in damages from Hello!
after its exclusivity deal with the Hollywood stars was scuppered when
Hello! printed pictures of the reception taken by a guest without
But these were stripped by the Court of Appeal
earlier this year, which ruled that the contract between the Douglases
and OK! did not give OK!
the right to damages in respect of the breach of privacy that had taken place.
Now the Law Lords have given OK!
go-ahead to challenge this decision and to raise the question of
whether it did have contractual rights that it could enforce against
But solicitor Chris Hutchings of M Law, which represents
Hello!, said the firm was looking into the possibility of
cross-appealing on the basis that the Douglases lost their right to
damages by selling their private wedding to OK!.
“If this point
is taken, it could result in a much-needed definitive ruling on
interpretation of the commercialisation of privacy – where people sell
the right to their private moments,” he added.
The case has been
running for more than five years – a testament to the bitter rivalry
between 17-year-old Hello! and OK!, which was launched five years later.
At the latest ABCs, OK! was selling 532,842 copies a week, compared with Hello!’s 392,481.