“Privacy and Celebrity” was the title of the lecture given tonight at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies by Michael Tugendhat QC (now Mr Justice Tugendhat). The lecture, hosted by the Society for Advanced Legal Studies, was attended by the IPKat who, despite his celebrity in IP circles, arrived incognito so as to preserve his privacy intact.

Michael Tugendhat started with an historical review of the attempts made by celebrities such as Lady Eden, King George III and Queen Victoria to protect their privacy through the control of paintings and etchings which featured them, drawing a parallel with the attempts of celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones to do the same thing through controlling which images of them can be used. He then outlined the positions taken against further legislative intervention in support of personal privacy rights, both by Lord Hoffmann in Wainwright v Home Office, and by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Both the government and Lord Hoffmann, as well as the speaker himself, felt that a free-standing privacy action was not necessary because other, pre-existing legal rights are sufficient to protect peoples' privacy. After a review of British case law culminating in Wainwright v Home Office (IPKat, 26 October 2003), the speaker discussed the possibility of utilising the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. He also discussed the far-reaching repercussions of the European Court of Justice ruling in Lindqvist (IPKat, 16 November 2003) and the even more far-reaching effect of the European Convention on Human Rights and its attendant case law. His conclusion was that, while time will show whether there is a need for further specific legislation, the privacy interests of not only celebrities but of ordinary citizens are surprisingly well protected. The speaker concluded by drawing attention to the upcoming privacy case brought by Princess Caroline of Hanover in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The IPKat was happy to know that, after all the excitement and uncertainty generated by the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998, Michael Tugendhat felt confident that the judiciary would place reliance not only on the “new” sources of privacy law but also on pre-1998 case law in seeking to balance the interests of individuals seeking privacy with the interests of the press in the freedom to disseminate publicly significant information.

From first to last: Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis, “The Right to Privacy” (1890) here; Lord Phillips, “Private Life and Public Interest” (2003) here
Celebrities in need of privacy here, here and here

PRIVACY AND CELEBRITY PRIVACY AND CELEBRITY Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 Rating: 5

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