UK press in-housers fight privacy ruling

Associated Newspapers’ head of legal is attempting to mobilise the UK media to back lobbying efforts aimed at convincing the German government to appeal the controversial Princess Caroline decision to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Harvey Kass, head of legal at the newspaper group, has approached his colleagues in the national press, asking them to support a petition written by Olswang media partner Dan Tench outlining why the German government should appeal.

The Times, The Sunday Times and Mirror Group Newspapers are known to support the petition, while the other national newspapers are expected to follow suit.

The Periodical Publishers Association has taken things one stage further, posting letters to the German government and to the UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt, asking the UK Government to lobby Germany.

The case revolves around photographs of Princess Caroline of Monaco that were published in German magazines.

The landmark judgment handed down by the ECHR in Von Hanover
v Germany
on 24 June 2004 has caused uproar among UK media lawyers, who feel that the decision imposes a privacy law on European states and hampers the freedom of the press.

Tench’s petition has two main points. The first is that EU member states should have the power to enforce a lower degree of privacy than that required by the court. The second is that the European Convention on Human Rights governs the relationship between a state and its citizens, not private companies.