I never welcomed Hello! into my beautiful Georgian home, says angry Eriksson

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The Independent Online

Sven Goran Eriksson has brought a touch of continental style to English football since he arrived to coach the national squad last year.

So when Hello! magazine splashed interior pictures of his new £3m mansion in Regent's Park, London, taken before the Swedish maestro moved in, perhaps it was the décor he objected to. Or maybe he simply hated the idea of the public getting a glimpse of the four-storey Georgian villa where he takes sanctuary from the roar of the terraces and the taunts of disgruntled fans.

An article in the 19 June issue of Hello!, which has photographs of several rooms in the house, taken before he had had the opportunity to redecorate, has upset Mr Eriksson so much that he is demanding damages from the magazine for invading his privacy.

Osborne Clarke, his lawyers, have written to the publishers asking for costs and damages for the feature in which Mr Eriksson is seen reclining in a chair, while a series of separate pictures shows the luxurious, if rather ostentatious living room, bedroom, dining room, bathroom and study.

The photograph of Mr Eriksson, 54, on the opening spread of the feature, is credited to Telegraph newspapers. The remainder of the pictures show the rooms of the house, but Mr Eriksson is not in them. His lawyers believe the article was written in such a way that readers were misled into thinking that he had invited Hello! photographers into his charming home.

Hello! said yesterday it intended to defend the claim "robustly", as it believed there had been no breach of privacy. Christopher Hutchings, of solicitors Charles Russell, who are acting for the magazine, said that a response to Mr Eriksson's complaint would be given within days. "A complaint for invasion of privacy has been received and Hello! will consider seriously the complaint. But they certainly don't think there has been any wrongdoing on this occasion," he said.

A spokeswoman for Osborne Clarke declined to comment on the matter.

Mr Eriksson's housing arrangements have been the subject of national debate since he made clear his shock at London property prices when he arrived from Rome last year. The coach, who receives an annual package from the Football Association estimated to be in the region of £2m, had been accustomed to fine living in earlier appointments.

When he was with Benfica in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, he owned a house in the hills overlooking the coast, which was so grand that, after he left, the only person who could afford to rent it was reputedly Benfica's president.

Yet his privacy claim may not reach the courts, even though there has been a recent spate of privacy actions by the famous, many on the back of new human rights legislation.

Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas obtained an injunction last year preventing Hello! publishing unauthorised pictures of their wedding after they made an exclusive arrangement with the rival magazine, OK! But the Court of Appeal overturned the injunction and held it had been wrongly granted. Hello! won costs and went ahead and published.

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