Kate Middleton wins privacy battle against the Daily Telegraph

September 2, 2013 |

The Daily Beast in Palace Wins Kate Privacy Battle As Telegraph Pulls Kate Shopping Pics reports on the Daily Telegraph removing from its web site pictures of Kate Middleton shopping in Anglesey this week. The story does not make it clear whether this was done in the teeth of a threatened action for breach of confidence/ evolving tort of privacy or moral suasion pursuant to a supposed previous understanding.

That the photographs are taken in a public place or a private place where the public have a general licence does not preclude bringing a privacy related action in the UK.  It would not be possible to bring a privacy action in those circumstances in the USA generally and, particularly with the media exercising its First Amendment rights. The article highlights the fact that notwithstanding the photos being taken down by the paper they were already published on line by another website outside the jurisdiction.  This may be a factor in weighing any order for injunctive relief but is not in and of itself determinative. It is not necessary to guarantee 100% coverage and prevent a photographs from being hosted elsewhere.  Clearly, as the courts have considered when reviewing super injunctions the utility of prohibiting publication of a name or other forms of identification lessens the more widespread the information sought to be suppressed becomes known.

In light of the ALRC’s further enquiry into a statutory right of privacy it will be interesting to see how it will view the increasing use of phone cams, drones and other cheap and simple to use video devices to record the movement of the rich and famous or the ordinary and anonymous.

The article provides:

You know when you dip your toe in the water and then decide not to go in after all?

Well, that basically sums up the fairly feeble efforts of the reputable UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph to push the envelope and publish some harmless pictures of Kate shopping (that have already been seen around the world online).

For Kensington Palace has won its latest privacy battle with the British media after the website of the Daily Telegraph took down its story about Kate Middleton’s supermarket shopping trip in Anglesey this week, which included paparazzi photos of the Duchess looking amazingly trim just five weeks after giving birth and listed items in her shopping cart. 

As of this morning an error message was on the landing page of the  story about the Duchess of Cambridge’s first sighting since giving birth to Prince George. Kate’s office refused to make any comment, but are likely to be jubilant that the once-troublesome British press has been so easily brought to heel.

A senior courtier told the Daily Beast earlier in the week that Kate’s team at the palace was “considering their options” after the Telegraph flouted a long-standing agreement not to publish snatched pictures of Kate going about her daily business.

Although Kensington Palace has long accepted that they cannot prevent foreign media publishing long-lens pictures of the Duchess – and one may question whether this is a purely Phyrric victory for the royals as the pics have long since gone viral after they were first published on Popsugar – they have in recent years succeeded in striking deals with most of the domestic UK media whereby access and the odd tip are  traded in return for self-censorship when it comes to pictures which intrude on her private life.

The UK media has demonstrated particular restraint in choosing not to publish pictures taken without authorization of Kate in Wales.

So the publication of pictures of Kate’s supermarket sweep in the usually staunch Daily Telegraph, which also listed all the items in her trolley, came as something of a shock.

Less friendly words than usual have since been exchanged between Kensington Palace and the Telegraph, questioning “the news value and public interest in publishing photos taken surreptitiously of The Duchess going about her daily business,” according to a source.

While many will applaud the protection of a young mother’s privacy, there will be others who will mourn at the remarkable ease with which the once-fearless British press has submitted to the will of the palace.



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