Entertainment & Arts

Paul Weller children win damages from the Mail Online

Paul Weller Image copyright PA
Image caption Weller and his wife brought the privacy case on behalf of their children, saying their faces were "plastered" over Mail's website

Rock star Paul Weller has won £10,000 for his children after their pictures were "plastered" on the Mail Online.

The High Court in London ordered Associated Newspapers to pay the damages after Weller complained.

Seven paparazzi photos were published in October 2012 under the headline "A family day out: Paul Weller takes wife Hannah and his twin sons out for a spot of shopping in the hot LA sun".

The couple said the shots were "plainly voyeuristic".

They sued Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and Metro, for misuse of private information on behalf of their daughter Dylan, who was 16 when the pictures appeared online, and twin sons John-Paul and Bowie, who were 10 months old.

The one-time frontman of The Jam and the Style Council was not at London's High Court to hear the ruling by Mr Justice Dingemans.

A paparazzo had followed the family on a shopping trip in Santa Monica, California, and took photographs without their consent despite being asked to stop.

David Sherborne, lawyer for the Weller family, said Hannah Weller - the mother of the twins - had not been in the public eye before her marriage and had taken active steps to prevent their faces being seen in the media.

Image caption Weller found fame in The Jam, whose hits included Going Underground and Town Called Malice

Photos taken in the street, and not in circumstances such as premieres or for promotion, were a "blatant impediment to the natural social progress of children", he said.

In court, Associated Newspapers argued the images, in which the children's faces were not pixellated, were entirely innocuous and inoffensive and the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to public gaze to a significant degree.

Following Wednesday's ruling, the organisation said it planned to appeal.

"The photographs showed nothing more than Paul Weller and three of his children out and about in public places," said a spokesman.

"There was no claim and no finding that we had followed, harassed or targeted Mr Weller or his children and no request had ever been made to pixellate the children's faces.

"Our publication of the images was entirely in line with the law in California where they were taken by a freelance photographer.

"The suggestion that children have an expectation of privacy in relation to publication by the media of images of their faces when one child (now nearly 18) has modelled for Teen Vogue, images of the babies' naked bottoms have been tweeted by their mother, and their father has discussed the children in promotional interviews is a worrying development in our law, as it has conferred unfettered image rights on all the children.

"This judgment has wide-ranging and serious consequences not only for local, national and international digital journalism but for anyone posting pictures of children on social networks. We intend to appeal."

The judge agreed the images could have been published legally in California, but said their appearance in the UK violated the right to privacy enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

"There was no relevant debate of public interest to which the publication of the photographs contributed. The balance of the general interest of having a vigorous and flourishing newspaper industry does not outweigh the interests of the children in this case," he added.

Weller recently announced a new greatest hits collection, More Modern Classics, featuring songs from the last 15 years of his solo career, including From The Floorboards Up, That Dangerous Age and new single Brand New Toy.

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