Stiff judgment on nude picture

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MELBOURNE - The obscure genitals of an Australian rugby league star were the centre of a public storm yesterday, writes Robert Milliken.

Everyone from feminists and judges to newspaper editors and phone-in hosts was in uproar over whether Andrew Ettingshausen's penis was worth the Adollars 350,000 ( pounds 175,000) he received on Wednesday over its alleged exposure.

Mr Ettingshausen, 27, a Sydney rugby league player and model, was awarded the money by a jury in the New South Wales Supreme Court after he sued HQ, a magazine owned by Kerry Packer, over its publication of a picture of him naked in a shower with two team- mates during a tour of England and France in 1990.

The picture was taken by Brett Cochrane and published under the headline 'Hunks'. Mr Ettingshausen sued HQ, claiming the picture was taken and published without his knowledge, that it held him up to ridicule and that it suggested he was an unsuitable person to fulfil his role as a rugby league junior promotions officer. Although he earned his living as a model, he said he had never posed naked.

The courtroom battle over the last fortnight centred on what formed the dark blur in the picture below Mr Ettingshausen's waist. He told the jury of two men and two women it was definitely his penis, that the picture was pornographic and that its publication had caused him sleepless nights. 'It shows my genitals, which I believe are a very personal part of my body which I don't want publicly shown to anybody,' Mr Ettingshausen said.

Shona Martyn, HQ's editor, told the court she believed the dark area was probably a shadow and that she had no problem authorising its publication because the shot was tasteful.

The jury believed Mr Ettingshausen's argument and awarded him what are believed to be record damages in Australia over a libel suit involving a photograph. Mr Packer's company, Australian Consolidated Press, is appealing.