i Editor's Letter: Celebrities are people too


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The Independent Online

Unusually, we featured a celebrity in the "splash" story on i's front page yesterday: Charlotte Church, who despite winning £600k (including £300k costs) in her battle with News International over phone hacking, vowed that she would "not let this lie".

I have no particular affection for Ms Church. I am not aware of anything she has sung, but believe her to be a talent. I do know that, discovered at 11, she somehow became "fair game" for the tabloids – even before she was 16. Details of her alleged teen exploits were all over our red-tops. When she was 15, a website began a countdown clock to her being 16 and "legal". The tabloids covered this with glee, as part of a narrative in which she was "a boozy, out-of-control wild-child". Her mother, who had mental health problems, was "pushy and greedy".

Church came to trust no one, perhaps because – unknown to her at the time – her family, friends and advisers' numbers were in Glenn Mulcaire's notebooks. She said: "They totally dehumanised us. We were fictional, soap-opera characters."

You don't have to have a 15-year-old daughter to find this repellent. You need not know that fears for her mother's health forced her to settle as it was clear she would never get redress in court. Yet, many of you have little sympathy for her, focusing only on the £600k award.

Do you really believe that when a singer gives an interview to promote her album, she abnegates all rights to privacy for herself and her family? Imagine this happening to you. Yes, many people are struggling in this recession, many have genuinely big problems, but that doesn't make what happened to Church, and others, any less wrong. See through the money and fame, and you will find that in the end, Church is just someone who was very good at singing. She could be you. Yes, celebrities are people too.