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Prince Harry to receive substantial damages for Paparazzi privacy breach

Prince Harry is reportedly set to receive substantial damages following a settlement with Splash News and Picture Agency Limited and Splash News & Picture Agency LLC (“Splash”) after a helicopter was flown over his home earlier this year and photographs and video footage were taken. Splash are well-known photo agencies and sell images to media organisations.

On Thursday 16 May, a statement was read out in open court. The Statement explained that Splash chartered a helicopter in January to take footage of The Duke of Sussex’s private residence, and photographs had been taken of the living and dining areas and also the bedroom. The statement also explains that the photographs were taken for ‘commercial gain and syndicated for that purpose’. The photographs were then published by The Times and by ‘a number of other media outlets’. A copy of the statement which was read out in court is available on the website of Prince Harry’s solicitors, Harbottle & Lewis.

The settlement of this case is an obvious victory for the protection of the privacy rights of high profile individuals. The particular legal issues involved in the case concerned breach of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018, breach of Article 8 ECHR and misuse of private information.

The actions of Splash apparently had a detrimental impact on Prince Harry. The statement read out in court explains that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had chosen to live in that particular property because of the level of privacy they thought that it would afford them, and the couple are apparently no longer able to live at the property because “the syndication and publication of the photographs very seriously undermined the safety and security of The Duke and the home.”.

Splash has apparently agreed to pay a substantial sum in damages to Prince Harry, has provided an apology and has also agreed to provide legal undertakings to Prince Harry. This case obviously demonstrates the enforcement of privacy rights related to a person’s home. There are echoes of past cases involving celebrities such as Cliff Richard, David Beckham and Heather Mills. David Beckham had pictures of his new home, which was still under construction, posted by the Mail Online, whereas Heather Mills sought an injunction to prevent the Sun from publishing her address. Cliff Richard was awarded £210,000 in damages last year in his claim against the BBC. The BBC had published details regarding a raid on Sir Cliff’s home, undertaken in relation to historic child abuse investigations, and included footage taken from a helicopter flying over the property.

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