Queen bans paparazzi photos: Time for the ‘laser shield’?
December 7, 2009
Page One: Queen curbs pararazzi – is it legal?
What legal right does the Queen have to stop photographers taking paparazzi pictures from a public place – and is an anti-paparazzi ‘laser shield’ really such a bad idea?
The Queen has told newspapers not to publish ‘private’ pictures of the Royal family, even those taken by a photographer who is on public land.
It is understood the Royals will not hesitate to take legal action if newspapers fail to heed the warning.
There is a growing list of successful legal actions by celebrities against paparazzi photographers.
So protective are some high-profile figures of their privacy that – in a bid to thwart paparazzi – it was recently claimed that Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch, has installed an ‘anti-paparazzi laser shield’ on one of his yachts.
Apparently, the lasers are designed to detect digital camera imaging sensors and disrupt their ability to capture an image.
In September British newspapers admitted they were wrong to publish holiday photographs showing England football manager Fabio Capello and his wife on a beach enjoying a ‘mud bath’.
Capello had complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about the photos, captured on a Spanish beach and published in the News of the World and in the Daily Mail.
Earlier this year media lawyer Jonathan Coad warned that celebrities will continue to pursue legal action against paparazzi photographers until they are seen to have ‘cleaned up their act’.
Coad, from Swan Turton solicitors told Amateur Photographer yesterday: ‘The thing to remember is that there are two human rights [under the European Convention on Human Rights] at issue here – the Article 10 right enjoyed by the snapper and the press, and the Article 8 enjoyed by Mr Capello and the Queen to a degree of privacy. Ideally, both sides should be respectful of the right of the other.’
Coad added: ‘Historically the Royal Family has been slow to protect their Article 8 rights, and have paid something of a price for this as they have suffered some serious intrusions.
‘However, recently they seem to have realised that they have to be proactive, and it is therefore not surprising that this has been done.
‘In effect though they are merely reminding the press of the obligations set out in the PCC code – which after all was written exclusively by newspaper editors.’
Paragraph 3 of the PCC Code, which sets out the Article 8 right, states: ‘It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent. Note – Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.’
Coad continued: ‘Sandringham is private property, so photos of the Royal Family there would breach the Code. If the press respected its own Code it would not be necessary to take such pre-emptive steps. It is necessary because they do not.’
Picture (above): Prince William has expressed growing concern at the behaviour of the paparazzi. In 2007 London’s Evening Standard published this story, but it was the actions of some photographers after these shots were taken that angered the Prince
Page Two: Growing list of legal actions against paparazzi
However, Royal photographer Arthur Edwards fears the Queen’s instructions to the press will see an end to shots of the Queen out horse-riding or Prince Charles with his children, for example.
He told ITV News: ‘They’ve just had enough and the law is on their side now.’
News of the World Royal Editor Robert Jobson added: ‘Sometimes you need photography to prove the veracity of a story. Therefore, it is essential that some photographs ate taken because, otherwise, stories of legitimate public interest may not make the paper and the public?may not find out about it.’
Last year the actress Sienna Miller won £53, 000 in damages and costs in relation to a harassment and privacy claim against celebrity photo agency Big Pictures.
And the actor Hugh Grant won a legal battle in the High Court over snaps taken on holiday at a private resort in the Maldives.
Commenting on the legality of celebrities using anti-paparazzi laser shields lawyers told AP that ‘intermeddling’ with cameras could give rise to legal action against the celebrity for ‘trespass of goods’, entitling the photographer to compensation.
Not only that, celebrities using lasers risked causing ‘collateral damage’, both to the camera and/or the photographer’s health.