Paul Weller in a jam over hypocritical damages case against MailOnline
55-year-old musician accused of wanting to portray image of 'devoted dad' in bid to bump up record sales
Paul Gallagher is a reporter for the Independent and Independent on Sunday having joined the group in 2012. He has previously worked for the European Voice, Daily Mirror and the Observer and been based in Brussels, Belfast, Tokyo and London.
Tuesday 25 March 2014
Paul Weller was accused of hypocrisy in court on Tuesday over a series of interviews he gave discussing fatherhood while promoting his latest album as he seeks damages from the owners of MailOnline for publishing a series of unpixellated photos of some of his children.
The 55-year-old musician was accused of wanting to portray an image of a “devoted dad” in a bid to bump up record sales, the High Court in London heard. Known to millions of fans as "the Modfather", Mr Weller told the court he had “no public image” and that talking about his private life “made no difference” to selling records.
MailOnline published an article headlined “Modfather’s day out” alongside seven photographs of himself with teenage daughter Dylan, and baby twins John Paul and Bowie on holiday in Los Angeles. Mr Weller said he objected to the “exploitation” of his children he said were being used for commercial gain.
Antony White QC, counsel for MailOnline publisher Associated Newspapers Limited, pointed to a series of interviews the musician had given to promote his 11th solo album Sonic Kicks where he had discussed his private life at length. One Big Issue article was headlined: “Who’s the daddy? Paul Weller shares parenting tips”.
Mr White said: “Could you not adopt the same policy as JK Rowling and simply refuse to discuss any details of your children?”
Mr Weller, immaculately dressed in a pinstripe suit and cravat, said: “We could have… I wasn’t unhappy about the article. To me it is just some father gushing about his family without any specific personal information.”
The musician, who has seven children across four households, told the court if he gets asked about his private life by journalists then he answers them. He said: “Why should I not talk about my family? The publication of pictures of my toddlers and 16-year-old that I have not consented to is a completely different thing.”
Mr Weller also said the series of articles Mr White referred to were examples of “lazy journalism” and that he had no control of what appeared in print. The former The Jam and Style Council frontman said he was unaware another of his daughters, Leah, had published a photo of herself with the twins, now aged two, where one of their faces can clearly be seen. An unofficial Facebook fan page republished the image.
The musician interrupted tersely when Mr White began to ask that if neither his daughter nor the fan page found publication of the picture of the twins objectionable what the problem was. The musician said: “I’m their father – that’s the difference.”
He said he and his wife Hannah asked Leah to remove the picture as soon as they found out.
The musician also gave a series of combative responses to Mr White when he was questioned about the differences between Dylan engaging in a photoshoot with Teen Vogue magazine when she was 14 and MailOnline’s decision to publish the series of photos featuring Dylan and the twins.
Mr Weller told the court: “Taking pictures of a very frightened 16-year-old looking after her baby brother is completely different to agreeing to have your pictures taken in a controlled environment.”
Mr White said: “So for you it all comes down to consent?” to which Mr Weller replied: “Yes”
Mr Weller’s wife Hannah, mother of the twins, had earlier told the court that although she posted on her Twitter account information about the young children and pictures of the young children, which do not show their faces, she is “careful” about not showing their faces. Mrs Weller, 28, said: “[My pictures] could be of any toddlers.”
Dylan Weller, now 17, also gave evidence from Los Angeles via videolink. She told the court the MailOnline pictures made her feel “extremely uncomfortable”.
Mr Weller is seeking £45,000 damages on behalf of the three children and an injunction preventing the use of the photos.
The trial continues.
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