Times pays off rapist who threatened to sue for breach of copyright

By Dominic Ponsford

The Times has paid off a serial rapist who is threatening to sue most of Fleet Street as part of a bizarre copyright action.

Press Gazette revealed last week that lifer Richard Baker has filed
a writ against the Daily Mirror over pictures it carried, which were
taken by him and allegedly handed over by the police.

Now it has
emerged that Baker claims the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on
Sunday, Daily Telegraph, Express, Star, Sun, Guardian, Independent and
Hello! magazine also breached his copyright.

And he is seeking tens of thousands of pounds in damages.

Baker was jailed in May 1999 after being found guilty of three rapes and a string of sexual assaults.

At
the time, Essex Police handed over a number of photographs to the media
showing Baker smiling and laughing with women on holiday and in
nightclubs. According to Baker, these were seized from his home in
Spain and were taken by him using a timer or by reaching his arm out.

After
last week’s Press Gazette story, freelance photographer Simon Atkins
has revealed that he is also being sued by the rapist.

Baker is claiming that Atkins acted as a go-between for the police and distributed the photos to the press.

Atkins told Press Gazette that he has been confused with a photographer with the same surname who works in Spain.

In
a letter sent from Baker to Atkins, he revealed that The Times had
settled out of court with him for breach of copyright. And he claimed
he wasseeking damages of up to £50,000 from The Sun, up to £20,000 from
the Mirror and up to £50,000 from Essex Police and the Metropolitan
Police.

Baker also named a number of other papers who he said
have infringed his copyright. He wrote: “Please do not underestimate my
intentions nor my will to pursue each and every person involved in the
seizing, handling or distribution of photos belonging to me.”

The
Times admitted that it had settled with Baker but refused to reveal how
much he had been paid. According to legal sources, any court damages
awarded to Baker would be minimal.

A spokesman for Essex Police
said: “We can confirm that proceedings have been issued in the High
Court against Essex Police and another force in relation to certain
photographs of Mr Baker which appeared in national newspapers. The
proceedings are being vigorously defended by Essex Police.”

Baker’s lawyers, Goldkorn Mathias Gentle, declined to comment.

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