As one of Britain's most precocious and photogenic musical talents, Lily Allen has rarely been out of the public eye since she shot to fame with her first album in 2006. But today, the singer reveals how the intense glare of paparazzi photographers over the past few years has left her feeling like a "caged animal".
Speaking in an interview with The Independent magazine, Allen described being "followed by 20 men with cameras all day", culminating in a car accident this month during which she was photographed in a distressed and angry state.
The 23-year-old expressed her relief at obtaining a court injunction which protects her from paparazzi harassment, granted shortly after the car accident.
"I already know that it's going to change my life ... I'm beyond happy. It's like I've been allowed to have success and a life, because sometimes it makes you feel like a caged animal," she said.
Days before the accident, Allen was cautioned by the police for assaulting a photographer outside her home. Some time later she was photographed kicking a photographer who had apparently driven into the back of her car. After obtaining a court injunction against two picture agencies, Allen's lawyer, Mark Thomson, released a statement stating: "My client has faced constant harassment over the last few months from the paparazzi." Allen described the moment the accident took place as her breaking point in which she thought: "I've had it with the press, I can't do this any more."
She said: "Seven cars had been chasing me since I left home. I turned into a T-junction and they all ran a red light, then tried to overtake on the inside. A woman had to slam the brakes on her car as they cut in. She had two children in the car, a baby in the back seat, a six-year-old in the front. I braked too, of course, and this guy ran into the back of me. I got out of the car. I was shaken up. There was a lot of force. I was really angry. I went up to him and said, you know, 'What the fuck are you doing? You can't do this'.
"Instead of talking to me like a decent human being would at a decent human level, he got his camera out and started taking pictures, and I just thought, 'I've had it with the press'... It was mental. And I got back into the car and called my lawyer."
Allen went on to describe the trauma of losing her unborn baby – by her then boyfriend, Ed Simmons, of the band Chemical Brothers – and the press intrusion she faced during that difficult time.
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"It was a really weird, horrid time. What was worst about it was that I didn't engage with what was really happening on an emotional level, because I was dealing with the press side of it.
"I couldn't really comprehend what was happening, because I was concentrating on trying to control the story. People shouldn't have known that I was pregnant anyway. When it became obvious that they knew, we had to say to them, 'I'm not three months yet, please don't write the story because it's too early and we don't know if it will go wrong'. Of course, they ran it, and it did go wrong, and that was really ... just ... not a nice time."
The singer has recently released her second album, It's not Me, It's You, to critical acclaim.Reuse content