Actress Sienna Miller wins damages from paparazzi

LONDON (Reuters) - British actress Sienna Miller won 53,000 pounds ($80,000) in damages from a photo agency on Friday over claims of paparazzi harassment in a settlement her lawyer said could have significant implications for other celebrities.

British actress Sienna Miller arrives at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards ceremony at The Royal Opera House in London February 10, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

Miller, 26, star of movies like “Alfie” and “Layer Cake,” had sued Big Pictures and its founder Darryn Lyons claiming they had invaded her privacy and were responsible for a campaign of harassment which had made her life intolerable.

On Friday, her lawyers said they had reached an agreement with Big Pictures and Lyons over the two separate claims.

The photo agency agreed to pay damages, Miller’s costs and also undertook not to photograph her at her home or make any effort to pursue her for pictures.

The announcement comes just over a week after News Group Newspapers, which publishes best-selling tabloids The News of the World and The Sun, paid 35,000 pounds in damages to Miller for printing pictures which they admitted breached her privacy.

Details of Miller’s private life and her romantic liaisons have regularly featured in Britain’s tabloid press, with her picture appearing with great regularity in newspaper showbusiness gossip columns.

At a preliminary hearing in October, her lawyer told London’s High Court that she had been relentlessly pursued by paparazzi since the end of June which had continued despite her requests for them to stop.

The court heard Miller was chased while driving, confronted outside her house in London, pursued to Heathrow airport on a number of occasions and followed as she attempted to walk her dogs in the park with her mother.

This had breached her human rights, her lawyer said.

Mark Thomson from her law firm Carter-Ruck said the settlement and the undertakings given by Big Pictures not to pursue Miller could have important repercussions for other paparazzi and well-known figures.

He said media reports indicated it was the first time that a celebrity had successfully used against photographers anti-harassment legislation designed to curtail the actions of animal rights protesters and stalkers.

“It’s not a binding court ruling but it may well encourage other celebrities and those followed in such a way to take action,” he told Reuters. “We hope that people will back off my client as a result of this.”

Some in the British media have voiced concerns that legislation such as the Human Rights Act is being wrongly used to introduce a privacy law by the back door.

There has been growing criticism following the decision in July to award damages to British motor racing boss Max Mosley over the reporting of a sado-masochistic sex orgy on the grounds the stories had breached his human rights.

Editing by Paul Casciato