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In-house lawyers at the UKs daily newspapers and magazine publishers are ganging up to fight a European ruling that threatens press freedom.
The case revolves around photos of Princess Caroline of Monaco published in German magazines. The landmark judgment handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Von Hanover v Germany on 24 June 2004 has caused an uproar among UK media lawyers, who feel that the decision imposes a privacy law on European states. The combined forces of the UK media are backing lobbying efforts aimed at convincing the German government to appeal the controversial decision to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.
Despitetheintenserivalry between national newspapers, Fleet Streets lawyers often team up to fight issues of shared interest. Often these are issues affecting press freedom, but they may also share the costs of litigation when people are suing over the same stories.
Associated Newspapers head of legal Harvey Kass has mobilised his colleagues in the dailies, asking them to support a petition written by Olswang media partner Dan Tench outlining why Germany should appeal. The Times, The Sunday Times and Mirror Group Newspapers are known to support the petition, with other national newspapers expected to follow suit.
ThePeriodicalPublishers Association,whichrepresents magazines such as Hello! and Heat, has taken things one stage further, with letters posted to the German government and to the UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt, asking the UK Government to lobby Germany.