PressWise calls for clarification of privacy rights

The PressWise Trust believes the UK needs a legal definition of the meaning of privacy rights.

PressWise director Mike Jempson said the judgment in the Zeta-Jones and Douglas case “means that they were within their rights on the ground of commercial confidentiality”, but that the implications for everyone else’s privacy were less clear.

“As Mr Justice Lindsay indicated,” he stated, “it may be time to clarify precisely what a privacy right means. Some newspaper editors agree with our view that if there is confusion about the meaning of privacy rights, we may need a legal definition to clarify what protection people can expect under the Human Rights Act or the Data Protection Act, for instance. What we do not need is a privacy law directed specifically against the media.”

Catriona Smith, intellectual property group partner at Allen Overy, said the case showed that the existing law of confidence had teeth – and strong ones. “The judge has rejected the chance to create a law of privacy through the courts,” she said. “If there is a need for one, it is not from this case, and would best be done by Parliament anyway.

“The PCC Code has been endorsed and strengthened by the decision. Only the foolhardy media will now turn a blind eye to how paparazzi get their pictures.”

Christopher Hutchings, partner at Charles Russell, which represented Hello!, said: “Our client has been vindicated in the major aspects of these claims. Winning on the privacy and conspiracy issues not only represents a victory for Hello!, but for the media in this country.”

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