Editor-At-Large: So you want sex in public <i>and</i> privacy?

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The Independent Online

Privacy is something we might consider a right, but you can't be sure of getting it unless you're rich or famous. Consider the case of Elizabeth Jagger, the 20-year-old daughter of Sir Mick. I expect that Dad hit the roof the other day when the tabloids published pictures of Liz engaged in a spot of late-night sexual activity with Calum Best. Most of us wouldn't choose a public doorway in a popular London nightclub as the place to have a serious grope and display our genitalia, but it was 4am and the pair had clearly been drinking. And it wasn't just a quick fumble - this display of lust took place in full view of doormen, members of staff and passers-by, who interrupted the couple's 11-minute romp three times.

Privacy is something we might consider a right, but you can't be sure of getting it unless you're rich or famous. Consider the case of Elizabeth Jagger, the 20-year-old daughter of Sir Mick. I expect that Dad hit the roof the other day when the tabloids published pictures of Liz engaged in a spot of late-night sexual activity with Calum Best. Most of us wouldn't choose a public doorway in a popular London nightclub as the place to have a serious grope and display our genitalia, but it was 4am and the pair had clearly been drinking. And it wasn't just a quick fumble - this display of lust took place in full view of doormen, members of staff and passers-by, who interrupted the couple's 11-minute romp three times.

According to a High Court Judge, however, Miss Jagger and Mr Best had a "legitimate expectation of privacy", and ruled that the club owner could not sell any more footage from a CCTV camera which had recorded the whole incident. Even more bizarrely, Mr Justice Bell admitted that other people could have seen what was going on, but accepted Miss Jagger's argument that she did not realise she was being filmed. And, in a real moment of moral madness, M'Lud added that while Miss Jagger "might be guilty of misconduct in the most general sense ... she was not in my view ... guilty of such moral turpitude as to prevent her seeking remedy from the court". And so, because she could afford a good QC, Miss Jagger's right to privacy was upheld and she will be spared the humiliation of seeing herself on the internet.

Naomi Campbell had to go all the way to the law lords to win her right to privacy, after the Daily Mirror published pictures of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and then claimed it was "in the public interest". Although she won damages of £3,500 in the initial case, Naomi lost on appeal, finally winning by a 3-2 ruling in May last year. Even then, the woman was branded a liar by former Mirror editor Piers Morgan, and trashed by many commentators. Whether you find her admitting lying about drug- taking objectionable or not, the fact remains that Ms Campbell has every right to attend treatment for drug abuse out of the public eye. The European Court of Human Rights has already pronounced that British law is "deficient" when it comes to protecting an individual's right to privacy.

But complaining after you're caught having sex in a nightclub doorway when you're drunk is a different matter. Is this really the kind of situation that requires the full weight of a High Court judge and the pleading of an expensive barrister? Other celebrities caught having sex in public have been far less lucky - and few, if any, have sought redress in law bleating on about human rights and privacy.

Take the case of the former footballer Stan Collymore, whom The Sun exposed last year as someone who indulged in the practice of "dogging". After he approached a couple (who, unfortunately turned out to be reporters) in a public car park to discuss the possibility of having sex, Stan 'fessed up to his weird obsession with watching complete strangers have intercourse in public places, and even, on occasion participating. I can't personally see why this behaviour is considered so reprehensible, if it takes place in a deserted car park, but the newspaper decided to adopt a high moral tone - after all, Stan was married, and, even more shocking - a Radio Five Live football pundit!

Then CCTV footage from a brothel in Liverpool revealed that eight of the city's top footballers (including Wayne Rooney), a 1960s rock musician and a soap star, had all been regular customers over a two-year period. One of the girls involved even claimed she'd fancied a Pot Noodle soup while attending to Mr Rooney's special needs. But punters attending a brothel in a sleazy neighbourhood shouldn't be too surprised they are being secretly filmed. And every single nightclub in central London uses security cameras to deal with drug dealers and unwelcome visitors. It's odd Miss Jagger hasn't noticed.

Famous people who get caught with their underwear akimbo either on video cameras or in a public place, should put up and shut up. From Paris Hilton to Pamela Anderson, the resulting videos have provided the rest of us with a bit of fun. And using Naomi's legitimate argument that celebrities are entitled to privacy on occasion is ludicrous. All Miss Jagger has suffered isn't a breach of human rights, but a hangover and a bollocking from Dad.

Last week John Reid announced plans to improve children's health. Schools are to get healthy vending machines, better school meals, and trainers will help children and adults in deprived areas develop personal fitness plans. There's even talk of issuing pedometers so schoolchildren can see how far they've walked. A shame then, that BT plans to turn public telephone boxes into vending machines - with the first batch of 20 operating in the West Midlands in the next couple of months. You can bet that these machines won't be selling any government-approved healthy eating options, but sweets, crisps and loads of E numbers. BT has been secretly closing its 70,000 public kiosks systematically over the last few years, because 60 per cent of them make a loss, taking as little as £10 a year. Forget the idea of providing a service - and remember that BT is a company making millions of pounds of profit from all of us - if any part of its empire doesn't operate in the black, then it's got to go.

In rural areas BT couldn't care less about what local people want. Near my cottage in North Yorkshire there is no mobile phone coverage, and villages are just small hamlets with no shops or pubs. In spite of receiving dozens of letters from walkers, visitors and residents, BT has disconnected public telephones. So if your car breaks down, you break a leg, have an accident, need assistance or even just a lift in Upper Nidderdale, forget it. You'll be reduced to hoping that a farmer is at home and feels like helping a stranger or perhaps the local publican can assist you if they are open. Even though using public call boxes is a ridiculously expensive 30p, they still provide a valuable service. And if the one on my village starts flogging food, it's bound not to be sourced in the area. Can we not adopt-a-box? If nothing else, it's somewhere for young people to lurk outside night after night, and far cheaper than building a youth club.

Christian Bale lost most of his body weight to play Trevor Reznick, a man who hasn't slept for a year in Brad Anderson's haunting thriller The Machinist, which opens later this week. Mr Bale was excellent as a serial killer in American Pyscho, and now his performance as the paranoid factory worker who believes that he's being followed by a menacing thug is truly shocking. Next up he's playing Batman, but what can the experience of starving himself for this part have done to his system? I expect he'll be fine - look at Geri Halliwell, who tells us she's finally happy with her "real" shape. And I thought the thin Geri was just down to yoga: I didn't realise she was secretly playing a part!

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