A Statement in Open Court [pdf] was read in today in the High Court before Mr Justice Dingemans in the privacy case of Jean Bernard Fernandez-Versini v. Bauer Consumer Media Limited. Heat magazine apologised and agreed to pay damages and costs.
The judge was told that Jean Bernard Fernandez-Versini, the husband of the X-Factor judge formerly known as Cheryl Cole, had accepted damages for the invasion of his privacy and for breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to a claim brought against the publishers of “Heat” magazine.
The Court heard that in August 2014, heat’s cover story referred to the Claimant and his wife and there was then a four page article containing speculation and inaccuracies and which “amounted to an unjustified intrusion into his private and family life” .
Mr Fernandez-Versini was said to be “a private individual and businessman” who “wishes to continue to be a private individual”. It was said “the fact of his marriage to a well-known individual does not mean his right to a private and family life can be ignored”. Despite the Claimant’s desire to keep out of the
spotlight, in August 2014, heat published an article about him and his wife. Heat’s front page headline carried the caption: “This time Cheryl’s in Charge” with three further captions below including ones that claimed the Claimant’s wife had paid for her wedding ring and that her mother was to live with the couple.
The article about which complaint has been made was published across four pages of the magazine with the title, “Cheryl: Two wedding parties and a watertight marriage contract’. In the article Heat speculated about what happened prior to and during the Claimant’s wedding although it acknowledged the wedding had been “secret”. It also went on to comment upon how the married couple would live in the future.
The Defendant accepted that
“the article not only invaded the Claimant’s privacy but, further, was contrary to the Data Protection Act 1998” and expressed “its regret for the upset which the article caused the Claimant and it unreservedly [apologised] to him.”.
The Court was told that the Bauer Consumer Media Limited had also undertaken not to republish the article and had agreed to pay damages and costs.
The Claimant instructed Steven Tregear and Callum Galbraith at Russells Solicitors. David Sherborne of 5RB was counsel. The Defendant was represented by Farrer & Co.