July 16

Media outrage : call for law reform


The PrincesIn the light of the outrageous publication by an Italian magazine and other media of a photograph of Diana, Princess of Wales taken immediately after the accident in Paris on 31 August,1997, Prince William and Prince Harry were obliged to send out the following melancholy plea to the media on Friday, 14 July, 2006:

“From Prince William and Prince Harry:

“Following this week’s publication in an Italian magazine of material relating directly to the death of our mother, we feel deeply saddened that such a low has been reached. Despite the support shown to us and our mother’s memory by so many people over the last eight years, we feel that, as her sons, we would be failing in our duty to her now if we did not protect her – as she once did us.Therefore we appeal to all forms of media throughout the world to appreciate fully that publishing such material causes great hurt to us, our father, our mother’s family and all those who so loved and respected her.”

Under EU law, privacy is protected, and those who photographed the Princess after the accident were convicted in a French court.  It seems that without legal constraints and strong remedies, including injunctive powers, substantial damages and in extreme cases such as this, the criminal law, some elements in the media will wantonly invade people’s privacy, invariably arguing that this is in the public interest. Of course the interests promoted by such gutter press outlets are anything but that. They are invariably personal greed and a search for notoriety. It is time that legislatures and law reform authorities everywhere reexamined the law in relation to the proper protection of privacy where there are no public interest considerations. That protection should be such that malevolent interests will think twice before engaging in this sort of behaviour.





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