(Adds Big Pictures reaction in penultimate paragraph)
LONDON May 7 Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling
has won her battle to ban further publication of a long-lens
photograph of her son, in a privacy case her legal team called a
major development in British law.
The initial claim by Rowling and her husband was thrown out
by a London court last year, prompting the couple to appeal.
In a written judgment on Wednesday, a panel of judges upheld
the appeal, a ruling which Rowling and husband Neil Murray
"We understand and accept that with the success of Harry
Potter there will be a measure of legitimate media and public
interest in Jo's (Rowling's) professional activities and
appearances," the couple said in a statement.
"However, we have striven to give our children a normal
family life outside the media spotlight.
"We are immensely grateful to the court for giving our
children protection from covert, unauthorised photography; this
ruling will make an immediate and material difference to their
Anthony Clarke, one of the judges hearing the appeal, said
the child of a famous parent should have the same rights as that
of "ordinary" parents.
"If a child of parents who are not in the public eye could
reasonably expect not to have photographs of him published in
the media, so too should the child of a famous parent," he said
in the judgment.
The disputed photographs were taken on Nov. 8, 2004 in
Edinburgh while David, then aged under two, was being pushed in
a buggy by his parents.
They were published in a Sunday Express magazine, prompting
Rowling, 42, and her husband to sue Express Newspapers and photo
agency Big Pictures and seek to block further publication.
The Express settled the claim, but last August High Court
judge Nicholas Patten threw out the case against the agency.
Keith Schilling of Schillings law firm representing
Rowling's family predicted the latest ruling could have a
"profound effect ... on certain sections of the paparazzi.
"This case establishes a law of privacy for children in
those cases where, understandably, the parents wish to protect
their children from intrusive photography by the paparazzi," he
"I am sure that the overwhelming majority of the media will
When asked for his reaction to the ruling, a spokesman for
Big Pictures said: "No comment."
Big Pictures will have to pay the bulk of the costs of the
case, expected to be hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars).
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)
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"Fan Fare" online at blogs.reuters.com/fanfare)