A well-known recording artist (Loreena McKennitt) has won her right to privacy after the Court of Appeal prevented a friend from revealing private details about her in a book.

This is the latest case which sees the courts supporting a celebrity’s so-called “right to privacy”, something which has long been a topic of hot debate, explains commercial partner and media law specialist Susan Hall, of law firm Cobbetts.

“Privacy law in the UK is terribly confused. It derives from a patchwork of legal areas, including the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act and common law breach of confidence. Which is applicable is heavily dependent on the specific facts of each case.

“The issue many people have is that celebrities are only too happy to pose for photographs and give interviews when receiving a fee but when another party tries to cash in on their fame, they claim that their privacy rights are being exploited.”

Take Catherine Zeta Jones’ £500,000 case against Hello! magazine. She claimed that the magazine violated her and Michael Douglas’ privacy by printing unauthorised photographs of their wedding day. She had however, signed a lucrative deal with rival magazine OK!, leading some people to question whether she had wavered her right to privacy by agreeing to publicise the wedding in the first place.

Another widely publicised case was Naomi Campbell’s breach of confidence claim against the Daily Mirror. It saw the supermodel win £3,500 worth of damages after the paper printed photographs of her leaving a drug rehab clinic in 2001.

Susan continued: “So, those of you interested in exactly how many towels a celebrity keeps in their bathroom may have to start looking abroad for your fix. However, those who follow the every move of celebrities who ‘court’ publicity, such as the Beckhams, will probably find them showing up in the pages of Heat for some time to come, or at least until we get, by statute, one identifiable right to privacy.”