Hello! magazine today claimed victory in its epic court battle over the wedding pictures of Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.
The Court of Appeal allowed its challenge to a High Court order that it should pay more than £1 million damages and another £1 million in legal costs to rival magazine OK!, which had an exclusive contract with the Hollywood couple to cover their New York wedding.
Hello!’s appeal against the ruling in favour of the Hollywood couple over privacy and commercial confidence was dismissed.
But the appeal judges also threw out the couple’s claim for more damages and OK!’s cross appeal based on unlawful interference with business.
Chris Hutchings, solicitor for Hello!, said after the judgment was handed down that the ruling meant that his magazine’s liability to OK! was now nil.
He said: “This was a spat between two rival publishers and not between Hello! and the Douglases.
“The judgment is a resounding win for Hello!”
He added: “As a result of our win, Richard Desmond (owner of Express Newspapers and OK! owners Northern and Shell), will now have to write a cheque to Hello! for a very large amount of money indeed.”
But a statement issued by Northern and Shell said the appeal court had “fully vindicated” the Douglases’ action against Hello!
“This decision will impact all publishers with exclusive rights as it means rivals will be free to run spoilers with no redress in law.