Dylan Weller and Others v Associated Newspapers Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division
JudgeMr Justice Dingemans
Judgment Date16 Apr 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] EWHC 1163 (QB)
Docket NumberCase No: HQ13D00678

[2014] EWHC 1163 (QB)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

Mr Justice Dingemans

Case No: HQ13D00678

Between:
(1) Dylan Weller
(2) John Paul Weller
(3) Bowie Weller (Acting by their Litigation Friend, Paul Weller)
Claimant
and
Associated Newspapers Limited
Defendant

David Sherborne (instructed by Clintons) for the Claimants

Antony White QC and Catrin Evans (instructed by the Editorial Legal Department of Associated Newspapers Limited) for the Defendant

Hearing dates: 24 th, 25 th, 26 th and 27 th March 2014

Approved Judgment

I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.

Mr Justice Dingemans Mr Justice Dingemans
1

This is an action which raises issues about the legal tests to be applied to determine whether there is a cause of action for misuse of private information. The claim arises in respect of an article which was published online on 21 October 2012 by Associated Newspapers Limited, as publishers of the Mail Online ("Mail Online"). The article was headed "A family day out" and showed photographs of Paul Weller and some of his children. Paul Weller is a well-known musician and was a former member of the "Jam" and "Style Council". He is now a solo artist.

2

The photographs were taken on 16 October 2012 by an unnamed photographer in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United States of America. The photographs were of Paul Weller and the children out shopping in the street, and relaxing at a café on the edge of the street.

3

The first child shown in the photographs was Dylan Weller ("Dylan"), then aged 16 years and now aged 17 years. Dylan was misdescribed in the photographs as Hannah Weller, who is Paul Weller's wife. The other children shown in the photographs were the twins John Paul ("John Paul") and Bowie Weller ("Bowie"), then aged 10 months, and now aged 2 years, sons of Paul Weller and Hannah Weller. All three children are the Claimants in this action acting by their father and litigation friend Paul Weller.

4

The article was illustrated with seven photographs which showed, among other matters, the faces of Dylan and the twins. The Claimants contend that the pictures of the children's faces should have been pixelated and bring these proceedings for damages for misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act, and an injunction. Mail Online deny that the publication of the unpixelated photographs was wrongful, or that the Claimants are entitled to any relief.

5

The whole of the article was taken down on 22 October 2012. This was because of the misdescription of Dylan as Hannah Weller. Although the readership of Mail Online is very extensive, it appears that the article with the photographs received some 34,000 hits, of which 24,000 were from England and Wales.

The article and the photographs

6

The article said:

"A family day out… Paul Weller takes wife Hannah and his twin sons out for a spot of shopping in the hot LA sun"

By Joel Cooper

"They may not be the most conventional family – with 54-year-old father Paul Weller, 26-year-old mother Hannah Andrews and their adorable eight-month-old twin sons.

But they certainly looked like a perfect family as they went for a stroll in the hot LA sun last Tuesday.

The former Jam front man looked totally relaxed as he looked after his family while they spent their day together"

The first and second photographs were shown. The caption to the first photograph read: "Family time: Paul Weller, his wife Hannah and their two sons were spending time together in LA on Tuesday." The caption the second photograph read: "Legendary singer: The musical family looked serious as they went to hit the shops in LA."

"The happy couple looked content as they took their two boys – John Paul and Bowie, for a tranquil day of shopping, stopping off at a café to cool off along the way.

Paul and Hannah married just over two years ago on the Italian island of Capri before having twins at the beginning of this year.

The pair both dressed casually for their day out with their sons – with Paul opting for a sports vest, shorts and sandals, while Hannah wore a maroon tank top, skinny black jeans and brown ballet pumps."

The third and fourth photographs were shown. The caption to the third photograph read: "New shoes? Paul, Hannah, John Paul and Bowie went into a number of stores to have a browse." The caption to the fourth photograph: "Or a handbag? The original Modfather still managed to look effortlessly cool as he hung out in the handbag shop."

"The young boys were dressed in colourful T-shirts and shorts, with both parents alternating who would carry their son.

The couple bought a record player and decided to place it in one of the baby's strollers while they carried their son in their arms instead.

The singer moved in with Andrews, who was backing singer on his 22 Dreams album, following the collapse of his relationship with Samantha Stock in October 2008."

The fifth and sixth photographs were shown. The caption to the fifth photograph read: "Coffee break: The family stopped off in the shade to grab a quick drink during their travels around the town." The caption to the sixth photograph read: "Style Fail? The style Council singer wore a strange pair of sunglasses as he hung out with his family for the day."

"Weller had two children with Samantha, as well as a daughter named Dylan, who was conceived during a short relationship with a makeup artist named Lucy.

Weller's two older children, Leah and Natt, were born during his marriage to Dee C. Lee, who was backing singer in his second band, The Style Council.

The pair married back in 1987 but divorced 11 years later, but Weller is regularly spotted out and about with his children and is clearly still very close to them."

The seventh photograph was shown. The caption read: "Getting their shop on: The couple bought a record player and decided it'd be easier to carry their son and wheel the large box back to their car."

7

The article was published with the seven photographs. The first photograph was a photograph of Paul Weller carrying Bowie with Dylan standing beside him. Bowie's face was turned the other way, and was not shown, and the view of Paul Weller was also side on. Dylan looked slightly troubled and was looking away, and was wrongly identified as Hannah, Paul Weller's wife. It did not appear as if either Paul Weller or Hannah had seen the photographer. As noted above the caption read: "Family time: Paul Weller, his wife Hannah and their two sons were spending time together in LA on Tuesday."

8

The second photograph was of Dylan carrying Bowie in one hand and pushing a wheelchair with a large box in it, while Paul Weller pushed John Paul in the other pushchair. Both Dylan and Paul Weller looked serious with slightly fixed expressions. It was obvious from the photographs that Paul Weller and Dylan had not seen the photographer. As noted above the caption read: "Legendary singer: The musical family looked serious as they went to hit the shops in LA."

9

The third photograph showed Dylan carrying Bowie in one arm while continuing to push the pushchair with the large box, while Paul Weller pushed John Paul in the other pushchair. Dylan is looking ahead and along the pavement, and Paul Weller, walking behind her just coming out of the shop appears to be looking across the street. The photograph only shows the back of Bowie's head. John Paul is shown leaning back in his pushchair. It was suggested that John Paul's face had been over-exposed and was not visible. In the copy provided to me John Paul's face is visible, but it is right to say that either through reflection of the sun or over-exposure the definition of the features is not as distinct as in other photographs. Neither Paul Weller nor Dylan appears to have seen the photographer. The caption to the third photograph read: "New shoes? Paul, Hannah, John Paul and Bowie went into a number of stores to have a browse."

10

The fourth photograph showed Dylan pushing John Paul in his pushchair. She is looking up the pavement. Paul Weller is carrying Bowie in one arm and pushing the pushchair with the large box in the other arm. There is a reasonably clear side view of John Paul's face and a clear view of Bowie, who appears to be tugging at part of Paul Weller's shirt. Paul Weller is looking out onto the street, and while it is apparent that Dylan has not seen the photographer the position is not clear in relation to Paul Weller. As noted above the caption to the fourth photograph was: "Or a handbag? The original Modfather still managed to look effortlessly cool as he hung out in the handbag shop."

11

The fifth photograph showed Dylan sitting at a table in a café whilst holding Bowie on her lap. Dylan has turned her face full onto the camera, and her expression appears to be fixed. It seems as if she has seen the photographer. There is a side view of Bowie's face. The caption to the fifth photograph read: "Coffee break: The family stopped off in the shade to grab a quick drink during their travels around the town."

12

The sixth photograph showed Paul Weller carrying Bowie while pushing an empty pushchair. Bowie's face is fully visible. The caption to the sixth photograph read: "Style Fail? The style Council singer wore a strange pair of sunglasses as he hung out with his family for the day."

13

The seventh photograph showed Dylan carrying Bowie while pushing the pushchair with the large box. Paul Weller pushed John Paul in the pushchair. There is a side view of Bowie's face, and John Paul appears to be asleep in the pushchair. Dylan appears to be looking at the photographer, and has her tongue part to the side of her mouth, as if she was in...

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