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Photos overstepped the line: Weller


Paul Weller who has brought a privacy case on behalf of three of his children over a newspaper website

Paul Weller who has brought a privacy case on behalf of three of his children over a newspaper website

Paul Weller who has brought a privacy case on behalf of three of his children over a newspaper website

Paul Weller has told the High Court that a newspaper website "overstepped the line" when it published paparazzo pictures identifying his baby twin boys and teenage daughter.

The one-time frontman of The Jam and The Style Council is suing Associated Newspapers for misuse of private information on behalf of John-Paul and Bowie, who are now two, and Dylan, who is nearly 18.

He wants Mr Justice Dingemans to award at least £45,000 privacy damages to compensate them for having their faces "plastered" on MailOnline in October 2012 and an injunction.

The seven unpixelated pictures were taken by a professional paparazzo who followed Weller and the children through the streets to a cafe during a shopping trip in Los Angeles - sometimes using a long lens but sometimes not, without their consent and despite being asked to stop.

Weller says the decision to publish the pictures was an unjustified infringement of the children's right to privacy while the newspaper argues that the images were entirely innocuous and inoffensive, taken in public places and not depicting anything private.

It says the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to public gaze to a significant degree and not complained about photos of their children being published.

The 55-year-old singer said that he did not volunteer information about his family when he spoke to the press to promote his records but he was a candid person who would answer a question if asked.

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"My preference would be just to talk about my music but I can also see that would be a very dull interview. It's just chit-chat. There's a big difference between that and someone following you around and taking photos of babies. That's a distinction that needs to be made."

He agreed he was relaxed about his 27-year-old wife Hannah putting pictures of the twins on her Twitter account, as long as their faces were not shown.

"Why shouldn't she? She's a young mother doing the same thing as loads of other mothers. Why shouldn't she be proud and share anecdotes or tips. We don't live like a superstar family. We live very normal lives."

Asked by the newspaper's counsel, Antony White QC, about a photo his wife put on Twitter of her naked stomach when she was heavily pregnant with the twins, he said: "It wouldn't be my choice but my wife is her own person."

When Mr White asked if he would not agree that such a photo might be regarded by some as very much more private than one taken in a shopping centre, he said: "I don't understand the whole social media thing. My wife wasn't making money out of it.

"It's not right is it, the exploitation of children? We'd all agree on that wouldn't we? It's a moral issue isn't it?"

Weller said he was never happy about his children being in the papers but he could not make a court case of it every time it happened as "we haven't got enough money to do that to be honest with you".

"They overstepped the line with the photos in LA, where they are full frontal pictures of the babies ... I don't think the children should be brought into it, not until they are old enough to make their own decisions."

He said it was incorrect that Dylan, who was in one shoot for Teen Vogue when she was 14, was a model and she had been "entirely intimidated" by the paparazzo who took the photos without consent.

"Even when I asked him to leave, and I thought he had left, I came out and he is still taking photos of a very frightened 16-year-old holding her baby brother. What kind of person is that anyway?"

Giving evidence, Hannah Weller agreed that she put anecdotes and pictures of the twins - cropped so as not to show their faces or otherwise obscured - on her Twitter account, which has 3,570 followers.

She said that she did not regard this as private information which needed to be guarded.

Asked about a photo of the boys on a toy sofa taken from behind which showed their naked bottoms, she disagreed that it was more private than those taken in LA showing their faces.

"All I want is that they cannot be identified - to me that is their faces, not their bottoms."

She said she was not a media person but a mother who cared that her children were not targeted by a kidnapper or paedophile.

She added: "I think there's a massive difference between my children being at home feeling safe and comfortable with their mother, someone they trust, taking a photo of them and putting it in the public domain and them being followed and harassed and made to feel uncomfortable.

"Having followers on Twitter is not the same as putting them on a website which is the third most visited website on the planet with someone making money out of it.

"I am posting little titbits, little snapshots of their lives, but nothing that identifies them from any other child.

"One I am comfortable with because it is within my control. The other is not within our control and we do not consent to it.

"The image of their face should be controlled by their parents and not on a national website. It is part of my job as a mother to control who sees that information."

She said that she and Weller would be looking over their shoulders all the time when they took the children out to the park.

"If someone is taking photos, even a fan, more often than not it results in cutting short family time, bundling the children up and taking them home. It isn't something you should have to think about."

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