£50,000 each for personal distress, say Douglases

Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas put a price yesterday of £100,000 on the personal distress they suffered when secretly taken photographs of their wedding appeared in Hello! magazine. But their commercial distress was estimated by their lawyers to be £500,000.

Alistair Wilson, QC, representing the actors, told the High Court the couple had suffered "real distress" akin to the invasion of personal privacy felt by burglary victims.

Yesterday's hearing was the opening of the second phase of the couple's battle with Hello! over the unauthorised publication of photographs of their wedding at the Plaza Hotel, New York, in November 2000.

In April, Mr Justice Lindsay judge rejected their claim of breach of privacy, but ruled the couple's rights of confidence had been breached by Hello! because they had signed a £1m deal with the rival OK! magazine for exclusive rights to their wedding photographs. The same judge now has to decide what damages Hello! must pay to the couple and to OK!.

The Douglases are claiming £500,000 in commercial damages, based on what they might have charged Hello! for use of the pictures. OK! has also sued for £1.75m commercial damages. On personal damages, Mr Wilson said the Douglases' "sense of euphoria was suddenly shattered" when they realised that Hello! had pictures taken during their wedding.

Since they had taken enormous care to try to preserve their privacy, personal damages should be more than might have been allotted, he said, and a figure of £50,000 each "would not be unreasonable''.

Mr Wilson said: "This is rather like a burglary when possessions are stolen and the value gone and at the same time you feel a sense of personal invasion of privacy. This is a real distress quite separate from the value of possessions which have also disappeared."

He added: "Their distress has continued. You should take into account the huge care taken in this case to preserve privacy. These are potent factors that push the damages a long way above what might otherwise be the norm.''

The court was told the couple had suffered paparazzi intrusion when Ms Zeta Jones was in hospital giving birth to their first child, Dylan, and photographs appeared in the British press. They were also aware that other celebrity weddings had been dogged by photographers hovering overhead in helicopters, climbing over walls and posing as guests.

Because of these factors, the couple had accepted the offer of an exclusive deal with OK! and forbidden their own guests to take photographs during the ceremony.

During the earlier six-week hearing, Ms Zeta Jones told the court she had felt "devastated, shocked and appalled" when she realised that the British paparazzo Rupert Thorpe - son of the former leader of the Liberal Party - had gatecrashed the wedding and secretly taken pictures despite massive security precautions. She also stressed that the case was "absolutely not about the money".

In his ruling in April, the judge said the wedding was an exceptional event for any bride and groom and just because Mr Douglas, 58, and Ms Zeta Jones, 33, were public figures did not lessen their right to complain about intrusion. There was no doubt they had suffered real distress, said the judge, and Ms Zeta Jones had cried when she learnt of the unauthorised photographs.

The hearing continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...