Pop star Madonna is claiming more than £5m in damages from the Mail on Sunday over the publication of private photographs of her wedding to film director Guy Ritchie, a High Court judge was told today.
Pictures of the “wholly private” event on 22 December 2000, were copied “surreptitiously” by an interior designer during work at her home in Beverly Hills, the star’s barrister, Matthew Nicklin, told Mr Justice Eady.
Nicklin said no photographs of the marriage had ever been published anywhere in the world until 19 October this year – the date on which the Mail on Sunday published 11 pictures over the front page and a double-page inside spread.
Madonna, who recently divorced Ritchie, said she was given no warning.
“She was ambushed, for the simple reason that if the Mail on Sunday had told her what they intended to do, the claimant would have sought and obtained an injunction,” Nicklin said.
After the pictures were published, Madonna launched legal proceedings seeking damages “in excess of £5m, being the estimated value of the photographs”.
Nicklin said the newspaper paid £5,000 for the pictures, “makes no attempt to defend what it did” and admitted breach of privacy and copyright.
The judge entered judgment on the issue of liability in Madonna’s favour today. Further proceedings to assess the damages to be paid are expected to be heard at the High Court next year.
Nicklin said the only photographs of the wedding at Skibo Castle in the Scottish Highlands were taken by world-renowned photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who presented them to Madonna as a personal gift.
“The photographs, assembled by the claimant in an album, were a personal record of the event and kept by the claimant at her home,” he added.
Nicklin told the court that the photographs were copied while Madonna was having interior work done on her home in Beverly Hills.
He said that on 15 October a woman supplied 26 photographs to the Mail on Sunday – pictures which had “essentially been stolen from the claimant’s home”.
The pictures used in the newspaper were cropped so that the fact that they were “photographs of photographs” was hidden from readers, he said.
“Readers were told nothing about the grubby way the photographs had essentially been stolen from the claimant’s home and purchased by the Mail on Sunday,” Nicklin said.
He told the High Court that although the newspaper had made admissions, it had not yet apologised to Madonna.