JK Rowling, creator of boy-wizard, Harry Potter has won a ruling shielding her son from the press courtesy of three of the country’s top judges.
But whether the shield will remain in place permanently to help hide her son David from the glare of publicity that surround his famous mother remains to be seen.
However, until there can be a full High Court battle, or until agreement can be reached, she has won an order that covert photographs of her son taken by Big Pictures (UK) Ltd cannot be published.
The Court today over-turned a High Court decision striking out the claim by JK and her husband that the photographs at the centre of the case should be permanently banned from publication as they amounted to a breach of their son’s privacy.
Now the case will be reinstated and fully heard unless agreement can be reached which brings the matter to an end.
In a ground breaking ruling that JK should be entitled to have her battle to save her son from prying paparazzi at least for the time being Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, said : ‘If a child of parents who are not in the public eye could reasonably expect not to have photographs of him published in the media, so too should the child of a famous parent.
‘In our opinion, it is at least arguable that a child of ‘ordinary’ parents could reasonably expect that the press would not target him and publish photographs of him.”
Afterwards JK and her husband David Murray said in a joint statement : ‘We understand and accept that with the success of Harry Potter there will be a measure of legitimate media and public interest in Jo’s professional activities and appearances. However, we have striven to give our children a normal family life outside the media spotlight.
‘We are immensely grateful to the Court today for giving our children protection from covert, unauthorised photography. This ruling will make an immediate and material difference to their lives.”
Media lawyer, Keith Schilling, who represented JK and her husband in the case said the case was to be seen as ‘a major development in the law of privacy’in the UK.
‘It will have a profound effect especially on certain sections of the paparazzi,’he said.
The photo at the centre of the row was taken whilst the family were out in the street and was printed in a Sunday Express magazine article on JK’s approach to motherhood.
JK and her husband, Dr Neil Murray, sued Express Newspapers and photo agency, Big Pictures (UK) in David’s name seeking to block further publication.
The Express settled the claim and last August High Court judge, Mr Justice Patten threw out the case against the agency.
In the decision to strike out the claim that today was reinstated against Big Pictures he said that David was ‘not himself upset’by the taking of the photograph and that as a result the claim being brought in his name was ‘somewhat artificial.”
The ruling also means that Big Pictures must repay £85,000 legal costs plus interest which it received after the hearing below. And it was ordered to make an interim payment of £150,000 in respect of the legal costs of the Appeal Court hearing.
Permission to appeal to the House of Lords against today’s ruling was refused though it is open to Big Pictures to apply direct to the law lords for permission to challenge it.