London, Feb. 3 (Reuters): A waft of Hollywood glamour drifted through the staid halls of British justice today as stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas sued a magazine for publishing unauthorised photos of their wedding.
The couple’s lawyer told London’s High Court they were determined that celebrity magazine Hello! would not escape punishment for publishing the photos — three days before its glossy rival OK! hit the newsstands with official shots after signing a £1 million deal with the stars.
“Should Hello! be allowed to get away with it scot free' The (couple) decided they would do their best to ensure that Hello! did not get away with it this time,” lawyer Michael Tugendhat told the packed courtroom.
Welsh actress Zeta-Jones, 33, and her Oscar-winning husband, 58, were not in court for the start of the three-week case, but are expected to give evidence in person next week.
They are suing Hello! for an estimated £500,000 in damages for loss of income, stress and damage to their careers because of the poor quality of the shots.
Interest in the case has been so high that court officials were forced to issue tickets to international media vying for seats in the courtroom. Tugendhat said that after the couple rejected a $1.5 million picture rights bid by Hello!, its proprietor Eduardo Sanchez Junco plotted a “covert operation” to get unauthorised shots of the lavish New York ceremony in 2000.
Hello! denies the allegations and claims it was offered the pictures on the open market and was entitled to publish them.
Tugendhat said the couple were deeply distressed that photos had been taken surreptitiously — causing friends and family to fall under suspicion before it emerged that professional photographers were involved. “They had to wonder who could have done this to them,” he said.
“Anybody would have been upset at discovering their marriage celebrations, which were something everyone wished to be conducted amongst friends and in an atmosphere of trust and enjoyment, should be exploited in this way.” The couple tried to block publication of the unauthorised photographs but were refused a court injunction and told to seek damages if they wished.
“They did not start these proceedings wishing to make money. They did not want photographs taken without their consent published,” he said.