Campbell v MGN Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Judgment Date14 October 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] EWCA Civ 1373
Docket NumberCase No: A2/2002/0863
Date14 October 2002

[2002] EWCA Civ 1373

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE

COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEENS BENCH DIVISION

The Hon Mr Justice Morland

Before

Lord Phillips, Master of the Rolls

Lord Justice Chadwick and

Lord Justice Keene

Case No: A2/2002/0863

Naomi Campbell
Respondent
and
Mgn Limited
Appellant

Mr Andrew Caldecott QC and Mr Antony White QC (instructed by Schilling & Lom for the Respondent)

Mr Desmond Browne QC, Mr Richard Spearman, QC, and Mr Mark Warby, QC (instructed by Davenport Lyons for the Appellant)

Lord Phillips MR:

This is the judgment of the Court.

1

Miss Naomi Campbell has recovered judgment in two separate actions in which she complains of publication of matters about her private life. The defendants in each action have appealed. The two appeals were conjoined, because they raise a common issue as to the extent to which English law provides protection against the publication by the media of details of the private life of an individual. That issue arises, however, in a very different context in each action and we heard the appeals sequentially. We shall adopt the same course in delivering judgment.

Naomi Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers

2

Miss Campbell is an internationally famous fashion model. She has courted, rather than shunned, publicity. In part, this has been to promote other ventures in which she is involved, including the marketing of a special brand of perfume and her own range of jeans. In interviews with the media she volunteered information about some aspects of her private life and behaviour, including limited details about her relationships with male friends. She acknowledged that she had behavioural problems, which included difficulty in keeping her temper.

3

When talking to the media, Miss Campbell went out of her way to aver that, in contrast to many models, she did not take drugs, stimulants or tranquillisers. This was untrue; she had, in fact, become addicted to drugs. On one occasion it became known that Miss Campbell had entered a clinic – the Cottonwood de Tucson Centre, Arizona. The explanation that she gave was that she was having therapy aimed at dealing with behaviour and anger problems. The reality is that she was also being treated for drug abuse.

4

On 1 February 2001 the appellants published in the Mirror an article that disclosed that Miss Campbell was a drug addict. It revealed that she was receiving therapy with Narcotics Anonymous and gave some details of the meetings that she was attending. It was illustrated by photographs showing her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in Chelsea. Others with her, who were presumably leaving the same meeting, had their faces pixellated. The tenor of the article was sympathetic to Miss Campbell.

5

Complaints that the article invaded Miss Campbell's privacy were made on her behalf to the Appellants. They were referred to, in terms which were no longer sympathetic, in a further article in the Mirror on 5 February. This made further reference to the fact that Miss Campbell was receiving treatment for drug abuse and contained a further photograph of her leaving the Narcotics Anonymous meeting in the previous week. Two further unsympathetic articles were published about Miss Campbell in the Mirror on 7 and 8 February.

6

Miss Campbell brought an action against the appellants. She claimed damages for 'breach of confidence and/or invasion of privacy' in respect of the first two publications, and relied upon the latter two publications as entitling her to aggravated damages. She also claimed that the Appellants were in breach of duty under the Data Protection Act 1998 and that she was entitled to compensation under s.13 of that Act.

7

The appellants denied that any of the material that they had published was confidential or that they had committed a breach of the Data Protection Act. They further denied that there existed in English law any right of privacy independent of the protection given by the law of breach of confidence and the Data Protection Act. At the trial Miss Campbell did not pursue the contention that she had an independent cause of action for breach of privacy.

8

These are the first proceedings in which the interpretation of the Data Protection Act has fallen for determination.

9

In the court below, Morland J. held that Miss Campbell had established an entitlement to damages for breach of confidentiality and to compensation under the Data Protection Act, although he treated these as alternative bases for the same award. That award he assessed in the sum of £2,500. That sum may seem modest, but there is an explanation for this. It was conceded from the outset by Miss Campbell that the Appellants were entitled to publish the fact that she was a drug addict and was receiving treatment for her addiction. Her claim for damages and compensation related only to the additional information conveyed by the articles and the photographs published by the Appellants.

10

Morland J. held that the two later articles belittled Miss Campbell in relation to her claim and sounded in aggravated damages insofar as this caused increased injury to her feelings. He assessed the consequent increment to the damages in the sum of £1,000.

11

Before us the Appellants have challenged both the Judge's finding that they were in breach of duty to Miss Campbell and his award of aggravated damages. Before considering in more detail the issues raised by this appeal, we propose to set out the details of the first two articles of which complaint is made, as summarised by the Judge:

"The Articles Complained of

Thursday 1st February 2001

On the front page between two colour photographs of Miss Naomi Campbell, the one dressed ordinarily in a baseball cap and windcheater with the caption below "Therapy: Naomi outside Meeting" and the other glamorously and only partially covered with what appeared to be strings of beads, was the headline "Naomi: I am a drug addict". The articles written by Polly Graham, who did not give evidence, were marked "exclusive" and read:—

"SUPERMODEL Naomi Campbell is attending Narcotic Anonymous meetings in a courageous bid to beat her addiction to drink and drugs.

The 30 year-old has been a regular at counselling sessions for three months, often attending twice a day.

Dressed in jeans and baseball cap, she arrived at one of NA's lunchtime meetings this week. Hours later at a different venue she made a low-key entrance to a women only gathering of recovering addicts.

Despite her £14 million fortune Naomi is treated as just another addict trying to put her life back together. A source close to her said last night "she wants to clean up her life for good" she went into modelling when she was very young and it is easy to be led astray. Drink and drugs are unfortunately widely available in the fashion world. But Naomi has realised she has a problem and has bravely vowed to do something about it. Everyone wishes her well".

Her spokeswoman at Elite Models declined to comment".

On pages 12 and 13 the article giving the full story appears with photographs under the headline "Naomi's finally trying to beat the demons that have been haunting her". The central photograph shows Miss Naomi Campbell outside the venue of a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The caption below states "Hugs: Naomi, dressed in jeans and baseball hat, arrives for a lunchtime group meeting this week". The picture was taken by Frank Doran, a freelance photographer who was specifically engaged for the job by the Mirror. The faces of at least two people are pixillated.

The article included the following passages:—

"In our picture the catwalk queen emerges from a gruelling two-hour session at Narcotics Anonymous and gives a friend a loving hug.

This is one of the world's most beautiful woman facing up to her drink and drugs addiction – and clearly winning.

The London-born supermodel has been going to NA meetings for the past three months as she tries to change her wild lifestyle.

Such is her commitment to conquering her problem that she regularly goes twice a day to group counselling."

"To the rest of the group she is simply Naomi, the addict. Not the supermodel. Not the style icon.

The organisation encourages addicts to stay away not just from drugs but also from alcohol and even cigarettes as a part of a 12 step plan to recovery.

They take it one day at a time, starting with the acceptance that there is a problem."

Her courageous decision to deal with her problem shows that the girl they call Babywoman is finally growing up.

"Something had to give, and thank God it was the drugs and partying,"says Naomi's friend, she's still fragile, but she's getting healthy."

"Naomi has been scared by what's happened to people around her,"adds her friend.

"Flavio has coaxed her into making the right decision. It could have all ended so differently."

12

On the 1st February 2001 Miss Naomi Campbell's Solicitors wrote a letter to the Editor of the Mirror marked "Private and Confidential" enclosing a copy of the proceedings which had been issued that day. They stated:—

"Publication of this article is a breach of confidentiality and an invasion of privacy.

Please let us have your undertaking by return that

1. You will not publish further ….confidential and/or private information.

2. You will not commit any further unlawful invasions of our client's privacy."

The Article of Monday 5th February 2001

13

Notwithstanding the claimant's Solicitor's letter of the 1st February the Mirror published the second article complained of under the headline "Pathetic" below which was a photograph with all faces pixillated except for Miss Naomi...

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