Court knows 'he's only RocknRoll' as Winslet husband wins case

Actress Kate Winslet's husband is not a public figure in his own right, a High Court judge said today.

Ned RocknRoll had "briefly become something of public figure" as a result of his relationship with Miss Winslet, said Mr Justice Briggs.

But the judge said that was not enough to place Mr RocknRoll - a nephew of tycoon Sir Richard Branson - into the "public sphere".

Mr Justice Briggs's analysis emerged as he revealed his reasons for preventing a tabloid newspaper printing "innocent but embarrassing" photographs taken of Mr RocknRoll at a private fancy dress party with an "outrageous" theme more than two years ago.

The Sun had argued that publication of the "semi-naked photos" would be justified because Mr RocknRoll - who changed his name from Edward Abel Smith - was a public figure.

Mr Justice Briggs ruled against newspaper bosses following a two-day hearing at the High Court in London earlier this month. He revealed his reasons for the decision in a written judgment published today.

"Mr RocknRoll has, inevitably, briefly become something of a public figure as a result of his relationship with, and now marriage to, Miss Winslet," said Mr Justice Briggs today.

"To some unavoidable degree this has led to published photographs of them together, but not so as to place Mr RocknRoll in the public sphere in his own right."

Miss Winslet and Mr RocknRoll - who are both in their 30s - married in New York in December.

After Mr Justice Briggs ruled against Sun publisher News Group Newspapers on January 8, Miss Winslet said she aimed to maintain privacy and refused to accept that her family could not lead a "relatively normal life".

"We have stopped The Sun from publishing semi-naked photos of Ned taken by a friend at a private 21st birthday party a few years ago," said Miss Winslet and Mr RocknRoll in a joint written statement.

"The photos are innocent but embarrassing and there is no reason to splash them across a newspaper.

"We recognise that in the internet age privacy is harder and harder to maintain. But we will continue to do what we can, particularly to protect Kate's children from the results of media intrusion.

"We refuse to accept that her career means our family can't live a relatively normal life."

The court heard that the photographs were taken by party guest James Pope in July 2010 and posted on his Facebook account.

Mr RocknRoll, who has also been married before, was a marketing consultant and was “head of astronaut relations and marketing” for Richard’s Virgin Galactic business, which promotes space travel, before taking up sheep farming, the judge was told.

Lawyers for the Sun said the images revealed conduct which “some people might legitimately regard it as being unacceptable behaviour”.

They said that, by marrying Miss Winslet, Mr RocknRoll had made himself a “public figure in the social sphere”.

They said he had courted publicity when marrying his first wife.

The Sun said the photographs had been taken with Mr RocknRoll’s consent and came into “the public domain” when posted on Mr Pope’s Facebook account.

And newspaper editors said they would pixelate any the parts of photographs which showed the “lower half” of Mr RocknRoll’s body.

But Mr RocknRoll argued that there was no public interest in the photographs being published.

He said he was not a role model and was a “relative nobody” before his marriage to Miss Winslet.

His lawyers said publication would be a breach of privacy and could lead to Miss Winslet’s two children being bullied.

The actress has a son and a daughter and has been married twice before.

She starred in the 1997 film Titanic and has been awarded a CBE for services to drama.

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