Celebrity’s Rights to Privacy

Do celebrities have privileges to personal privacy? Should their private lives be open to press scrutiny? Make sure you analyse Hi there v Douglas, Campbell v MGN Ltd, A v B and Campbell v Frisbee. Make sure you also mention cases which were referred to in the judgements of the cases, and the importance of data coverage in answering this dilemma.

There can be no express common law ‘tort of privacy’ in English law[1]. Rather, there is a generally recognised ‘ideal’ to privacy. In recent times, there has been much controversy surrounding the issue of privacy, and issues have been raised as to whether or not privacy should be expressly enforceable through the courts. Prior to the HRA 1998, a person could only bring an actions against another for breach of assurance, trespass or defamation[2].

Grundberg[3] opines, ‘…Flexibility of the press may be the cornerstone of freedom of speech.’ However, it is the media which have had the biggest role to enjoy in the discussions surrounding the right to privacy. Gibbons suggests that the issue now is deciding how far the interests of the press count against the launch of a general laws. He opines that the idea of privacy ‘…is not simple to elucidate and its priority in securing safety over other interests isn’t self-evident.’[4] Essentially, Gibbons affirms, privacy centres on the individual’s to restrict the option of details about him or herself.

There have been attempts to pass charges in Parliament with the purpose of presenting a statutory tort of personal privacy, which were unsuccessful. Federal government Committees and Royal Commissions have also recommended against the intro of such a regulation on the foundation that there will be an ‘unworkable definition of the tort.’[5] The Younger Committee Report on Privacy confirmed that they ‘…observed privacy to become a concept which means widely various things to different people and changes considerably over relatively short periods. In considering the way the courts could handle so ill-defined and unstable a concept, we conclude that privacy is ill-suited to end up being the main topic of long procedure for definition through the accumulating of precedents through the years, because the judgements of days gone by would be an unreliable information to any current analysis of privacy.’[6] The lack of such a legislation was criticised regarding Kaye v Robertson.[7] Gordon Kaye, an actor, have been involved in a serious accident and was as a result admitted to medical center. Journalists from the Sunday Sport overlooked notices to see a member of staff before visiting Kaye, and subsequently took photos of him. Medical evidence was submitted, stating that Kaye was not fit to give interviews at that time and had no recollection of ever before giving one in the first place. Consequently, Potter, J granted an injunction to avoid publication of the pictures and any accompanying history. Barendt and Hitchens assert that this particular case has been the main topic of much analysis recently, and cite Professor Markesinis[8] who claimed that, ‘…English law, overall, compares unfavourably with German law…Many aspects of the human persona and privacy are protected by a variety of existing torts but this implies fitting the facts of each circumstance in the pigeon hole of an existing tort…it may leave a deserving plaintiff without a remedy.’[9]

In October 2000, an express to privacy finally broke into English rules by virtue of the Human being Rights Work 1998. The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Content 8 was incorporated into English laws. The Convention stipulates that ‘Everyone has the right to respect for his individual and family existence, his residence and his correspondence.’

According to Grundberg, the HRA 1998 applies and then government action rather than to the activities of private persons. Furthermore, Content 8 requirements can conflict with the proper to freedom of expression, as complete in Document 10.[10]

In Douglas v Hello!, the Douglases and OK Magazine won their case against the publishers of Hello! magazine for breach of confidence. Hello! had published unauthorised photographs of the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, in the full knowledge that Okay had an exclusive on the story. In addition to winning their state for breach of confidence nevertheless, the Douglases were likewise awarded damages beneath the Data Protection Act 1998 by virtue of the fact that the photos were deemed to get ‘personal data.’[11] The photographs were said to have been unlawfully processed by Hello there!, thereby contravening certain requirements of the DPA 1998. Lindsay, J explained that, ‘…When a data controller (Hello!) is accountable for the publication of hard copies that reproduce data that has previously been processed through equipment operating instantly, the publication forms portion of the process and falls within the scope of the Take action.’[12] Hello! argued that their publication fell within the ‘large journalism exception’ under s.32 of the DPA 1998, a device that was successfully employed against Naomi Campbell regarding Campbell v MGN Ltd[13] at the Court of Appeal. In this case however, Lindsay, J ruled that unlike the Campbell case, there is ‘…no credible evidence that Hello! had the required belief that the publication was in the public interest, particularly considering that the photographs were attained by trespassing paparazzo and Howdy! knew OK was about to publish a wedding unique.’[14] He continued to assert, ‘That the public will be interested isn’t to be baffled with their being a public interest.’

Kate Brimsted claims that the first theory of the DPA 1998 requires the processing of info to be good and lawful. In cases like this, Lindsay, J held that the principle had been breached by Hi there! magazine in that their methods of acquiring the photographs were unfair. The magazine got also failed to comply with the requirements laid out in Timetable 2 of the Work in relation to good and lawful processing. Regarding Hello v Douglas Lindsay, J described the case of Peck v UK[15]. In this case, the European Courtroom of Human Rights held that English rules had failed to provide Peck with a powerful domestic treatment when CCTV photos of him looking seemingly suicidal had been broadcast. Brimsted argues that in the current climate, the DPA 1998 would provide you with him with a legal remedy by virtue to the fact that he would be eligible for compensation as he suffered ‘by motive of any contravention’ of the Act by the info controller (the broadcaster).

In the case of Campbell v MGN Ltd[16] the Mirror newspaper had ran a cover account with the headline ‘Naomi: I am a Medicine Addict,’ accompanied by two photos – one of Naomi Campbell as a glamorous model, the various other of her looking informal in skinny jeans and a baseball cap, over the caption ‘Remedy: Naomi outside meeting.’ The Mirror had uncovered Naomi Campbell’s attendance at Narcotics Anonymous. In general, this article was deemed to get supportive and sympathetic, though inaccurate in spots. The regularity of her attendance was also exaggerated.

Campbell took actions against MGN Ltd your day the story was released. The Mirror responded by publishing further stories, although tone of the content shifted from sympathetic and supportive to intense and demeaning; one headline was simply labelled ‘Pathetic’. In the proceedings, Campbell claimed damages for breach of confidence, and compensation under the Data Protection Act 1998. Morland, J upheld her say, awarding her approximately £3,500. MGN Ltd subsequently appealed, and this was upheld. Campbell appealed once again to the home of Lords, though this time around her appeal was dismissed on the foundation that inter alia,

the pictures published by MGN Ltd ‘conveyed no personal information beyond that mentioned in the content…there was little or nothing undignified or distrait about her appearance.’[17] It is worth noting below the difference between this circumstance and Peck v UK, where Peck’s vulnerable and suicidal overall look was a key factor in the final decision.

Naomi Campbell was involved with additional legal proceedings against her past employee Vanessa Frisbee, in Campbell v Frisbee.[18] The News of the World had published an article about obvious sexual encounters between Campbell and the actor Joseph Fiennes. The story had been furnished to the newspaper by Vanessa Frisbee, who had been employed by Campbell to provide ‘management services’. It had been a term of Frisbee’s contract that she would keep info on Campbell individual, and she entered into a Confidentiality Contract on the 9th February 2000. Frisbee agreed to abide by a number of clauses; namely on the other hand that she would not really disclose anything to the press without the last permission of Campbell. It had been appreciated in court that Frisbee owed Campbell a duty of confidence, and that the disclosures she experienced made were evidently a breach of this self-confidence. Campbell claimed damages or accounts of profits arising from the breach of confidence. By method of defence, Frisbee argued that, through a culmination of mistreatment and assault the deal between herself and Campbell had been repudiated, and, even if the court discovered that this was false, she was entitled to sell the story even so, because there was a public interest.

Lightman, J held in cases like this that confidentiality remained binding according of confidential information that the worker or contractor had obtained throughout her or his service, whether or not the contract have been repudiated by other means[19].

In the circumstance of A v B, the court was concerned with whether to grant an injunction to restrain the publication of personal information. This information worried the sexual relations a, a married professional footballer, had acquired with two females – C and D. Lord Woolf mentioned in this instance that any interference with the press had to be justified; under s.12 (4) of the Individual Rights Act, the courtroom had to have regard to if it could be in the ‘public curiosity’ for material to be published. Lord Woolf stressed in this case however that, even if there were no apparent special public curiosity, this did not imply that the court would be justified in interfering with the freedom of the press; he opined that, ‘…where an individual was a public body he was entitled to have his privacy respected in appropriate conditions. He should recognise however that he must expect and accept that his actions will be more closely scrutinised by the press.’[20] Lord Woolf appears to be adhering to the institution of idea that suggests stars, by virtue of their prominent status within society, should enjoy that their lifestyles and activities will be more cautiously monitored by the press than ordinary members of the general public.

Crone suggests that it really is unlikely a claimant will be able to restrain the publication of info on his or her private life unless the info ‘…is trivial or currently in the public domain…there is a distinct public fascination in the publication regarding, for example, the detection or publicity of crimes…or the claimant can clearly be compensated in damages because, for example, he is prepared to sell the relevant details about his private life, simply mla f because was the circumstance in Douglas v Hello!.[21]

In answering essay editor the problem, ‘Should the lives of celebrities most probably to press scrutiny,’ the difficulty lies in deciding which data is of sufficient importance for the public to have a justifiable promise to knowing about any of it. Gibbons claims that in some instances this is reasonably apparent, i.e. if factual statements about anti-social or harmful practices are private, this will not warrant their continuing secrecy, and facts relevant to a politician’s ability to govern must be publicly known in the fascination of society most importantly. It appears that celebrities are entitled to object if facts is private and there is absolutely no public curiosity in the materials being published. There are clear differences between cases such as for example Campbell v MGN Ltd, where in fact the claimant didn’t wish the photographs to be released at all, and Douglas v Hello!, where there objections stemmed from the actual fact that, while they were willing for photos to be published, they had agreed a special with a magazine in order to protect their commercial passions. Additionally it is interesting to note that now, as the UK does not reap the benefits of a particular privacy law, adequate redress is now able to be obtained by virtue of the Data Protection Act 1998, and the security it offers “by motive of any contravention” of its provisions.


Barendt, E., Hitchens, L. Media Law: Instances and Materials (2000) London: Longman Law Series

Brimsted, Kate for Hebert Smith Data Security: a Privacy Legislation By Any Other Brand? 15th April 2003 www.spr-consilio.com

Crone, T. Law and the Media (4th Edition) 2002 Oxford: Focal Press

Gibbons, T Regualating the Media (1998) London: Lovely & Maxwell


A v B Plc & Another (2003) QB 195

Campbell v Frisbee (2002) EWCA Civ No. 1374

Campbell v MGN Ltd (2002)

Kaye v Robertson (1991) FSR 62

Peck v UK (The Times, 3rd February 2003)


Data Protection Act 1998

Human Rights Act 1998





[1] Grundberg, P. The New Right to Privacy Chapter 8, p.114-130 in Crone, T. Law and the Media (4th Edition) 2002 Oxford: Focal Press

[2] Grundberg, P. The New Right to Privacy Chapter 8, p.114-130 in Crone, T. Law and the Media (4th Edition) 2002 Oxford: Focal Press

[3] Grundberg, P. The New Right to Privacy Chapter 8, p.114-130 in Crone, T. Law and the Media (4th Edition) 2002 Oxford: Focal Press

[4] Gibbons, T Regualating the Media (1998) London: Lovely & Maxwell p.83

[5] Grundberg, P. The New Right to Privacy Chapter 8, p.114-130 in Crone, T. Law and the Media (4th Edition) 2002 Oxford: Focal Press

[6] Younger Committee Survey on Privacy, Cmnd. 5012 (1972) cited in Barendt, E., Hitchens, L. Media Law: Instances and Materials (2000) London: Longman Law Series p.399

[7] Kaye v Robertson (1991) FSR 62

[8] The German Laws of Torts (2nd Edition) 1990 p.316 – cited in Barendt, E., Hitchens, L. Media Laws: Cases and Materials (2000) London: Longman Regulation Series p.399

[9] Barendt, E., Hitchens, L. Media Law: Cases and Materials (2000) London: Longman Law Series p.399

[10] Grundberg, P. The New Right to Privacy Chapter 8, p.114-130 in Crone, T. Law and the Media (4th Edition) 2002 Oxford: Focal Press

[11] Brimsted, Kate for Hebert Smith Data Protection: a Privacy Legislation By Any Other Name? 15th April 2003 www.spr-consilio.com

[12] Lindsay, J Douglas v Hello! Cited in Kate Brimsted for Hebert Smith Data Safeguard: a Privacy Legislation By Any Other Name? 15th April 2003 www.spr-consilio.com

[13] Campbell v MGN Ltd (2002)

[14] Lindsay, J cited in Hebert Smith Data Cover: a Privacy Regulation By Any Other Name? 15th April 2003 www.spr-consilio.com

[15] Peck v UK (THE DAYS, 3rd February 2003) cited by Lindsay, J in Douglas v Hello!, cited in Brimsted, Kate for Hebert Smith Data Safety: a Privacy Law By Any Other Name? 15th April 2003 www.spr-consilio.com

[16] Campbell v MGN Ltd (2004) UKHL 22

[17] Campbell v MGN Ltd (2004) UKHL 22

[18] Campbell v Frisbee (2002) EWCA Civ No. 1374

[19] Lightman, J Campbell v Frisbee (2002) EWCA Civ Zero. 1374

[20] A v B Plc & Another (2003) QB 195

[21] Crone, T. Law and the Media (4th Edition) (2002) Oxford: Focal Press