Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas win suit over paparazzi wedding pictures

Friday, April 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas on Friday won their lawsuit against a celebrity magazine that published ``cheap and tacky'' photographs taken by paparazzi who crashed their wedding.

The amount of damages was not immediately announced.

The Hollywood couple claimed that the afterglow of their lavish wedding 2 1/2 years ago was spoiled by the paparazzi shots printed by the celebrity magazine, Hello! The couple had a $1.55 million deal for exclusive pictures with another magazine, OK!

High court judge John Lindsay ruled that the couple's ``commercial confidence'' was breached.

``I find the Hello! defendants to have acted unconscionably and by reason of breach of confidence they are liable,'' the judge's written ruling said.

However, the judge rejected the couple's claim that the magazine had breached their right to privacy. At the time of the wedding, he ruled, there was no such right under British law.

``We deeply appreciate that the court has recognized the principle that every individual has the right to be protected from excessive and unwanted media intrusion into their private lives,'' Zeta-Jones and Douglas said in a statement released at the court.

Testifying to a packed courtroom on Feb. 10, Zeta-Jones complained that the ``cheap and tacky'' images published by Hello! made her look overweight and the reception appear to have ``bad disco lighting.''

Zeta-Jones and Douglas had sought $775,000 from Hello! while Northern & Shell PLC, publisher of OK!, asked for $2.6 million.

``This is about a woman having the right to have her wedding the way she wants it,'' Zeta-Jones had testified.

Asked about a paparazzi shot showing Douglas feeding her wedding cake, she retorted, ``I don't usually like my husband shoving a spoon down my throat to be photographed.''

Douglas testified the couple knew there would be intense interest in their wedding.

``The best way to solve this was to make a deal with one publication,'' he said during about two hours of questioning.

Douglas and Zeta-Jones reportedly spent $2 million for their Nov. 18, 2000 wedding at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Their guest list of 350 included Sean Connery, Sharon Stone, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg and Anthony Hopkins.

Wedding planner Simone Martel, testifying by video, said three security companies, the New York Police Department and the fire department were all involved trying to insure privacy at the wedding.

However, photographers Rupert Thorpe and his wife, Michelle Day, sneaked into the Plaza and used hidden cameras to snap images which were sold to Hello!

Eduardo Sanchez Junco, the owner of Hello!, said in court that he was sorry to have caused the couple distress but added: ``I think that their attitude was a little bit exaggerated.''