Shortly before the Easter break, the Supreme Court refused Associated Newspapers permission to appeal against the decision awarding damages to three children of musician Paul Weller, following publication on its Mail Online website of photographs taken by a paparazzo in Santa Monica, California.

The case had initially been heard in the High Court by Mr Justice Dingemans in March 2014.  The Court found that publication of unpixelated photographs of the three Weller children on a family day out, where the photographs had been taken without their parents' consent, was an infringement of the children's Article 8 privacy rights.  The Court awarded £10,000 damages and granted an injunction. 

Associated Newspapers appealed that decision.  However, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on all grounds, holding that the children had a reasonable expectation of privacy because:

  • although they were in a public place, they were on a private family outing
  • the parents had not consented to the photographs being taken or published
  • the children had been identified by name
  • the fact that a child's parents may be in the public eye does not reduce the child's right to privacy.

The Court of Appeal decided that the children's Article 8 privacy rights were not outweighed by the newspaper's Article 10 right to freedom of expression because:

  • the photographs did not contribute to a debate of general interest
  • the primacy of the best interests of a child meant that, where a child's privacy was involved, any adverse effect on the child should be given considerable weight.

Associated's failure to overturn first the High Court and then the Court of Appeal's decisions is good news for those seeking to protect themselves from intrusive media reporting, particularly where it involves the use of photographs of children, taken or published without the consent of their parents. 

The Court of Appeal decision is here.