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Sunday, 27 June 2004

PRINCESS CAROLINE WINS ECHR PRIVACY CASE

Friday’s Daily Telegraph reports that Princess Caroline of Monaco has won her action against Germany before the European Court of Human Rights. She challenged the German Constitutional Court’s decision that those in the public eye must put up with photographs appearing that show them in public places, even while they were engaged in everyday activities, rather than public duties. The Princess, relying on her Article 8 rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, went to the Strasbourg court, arguing that the law in Germany should be more zealous in guarding privacy, even if the subject of the intrusion is a celebrity.

The European Court agreed. It recognised that even those who are in the public eye have a right to stop photographs being published if the pictures made no contribution to a debate of general public interest. Said the court:

"The court considers that the public does not have a legitimate interest in knowing where [Princess Caroline] is and how she behaves generally in her private life - even if she appears in places that cannot always be described as secluded and despite the fact that she is well known to the public.”

and

"Even if such a public interest exists, as does a commercial interest of the magazines in publishing these photos . . . those interests must, in the court's view, yield to the applicant's right to the effective protection of her private life."

The IPKat welcomes this sensible decision. The court has blocked needless intrusion into the everyday life of the famous while at the same time leaving the door open to enabling the press to comment on their activities when it is truly in the public interest to do so.

More on Princess Caroline here and here
More on Monaco here and here

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