Paul Weller, former front man of the Jam, will be able to keep his children underground after Associated Newspapers were ordered to pay £10,000 after publishing their faces on the Mail Online website.
The ruling came about when a paparazzo followed and photographed Weller, his wife and three of his children whilst they were on a shopping trip in Santa Monica, California.
During the hearing Associated Newspapers argued that the images were entirely innocuous and inoffensive and that the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to the public gaze to a significant degree. However, Weller stated in his evidence that answering questions about his family in an interview is very difference to someone following his family around and taking photos of babies.
The High Court in London agreed with Weller and ruled that Associated Newspapers had misused private information and breached the Data Protection Act 1998. Though the photographs could have been published legally in California, the appearance of the photographs in the UK violated the children’s right to privacy which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
In response to the ruling Associated Newspapers stated:
“This judgment has wide-ranging and serious consequences not only for local, national and international digital journalism but for anyone posting pictures of children on social networks. We intend to appeal.”
However, if Associated Newspapers do succeed with their appeal then they may shatter the dreams of Weller’s children – it was ordered that the judgment money be split between them.