Privacy action against 'Sunday World' taken over baby photos

 

A WOMAN who had a child with the former husband of performer Twink has brought a High Court action claiming she was defamed and her right to privacy breached by the publication of photographs of them in a newspaper.

Ruth Hickey, Archer’s Wood, Castaheany, Dublin, is suing the Sunday Worldover material published after she, her newborn son and David Agnew were photographed leaving the births, marriages and deaths office in Dublin on May 10th, 2006.

She claims her constitutional and European Convention rights to privacy, and that of her son, were breached and she wants the court to award aggravated and exemplary damage against the newspaper. She also claims she was defamed through the newspaper publishing an offensive word which someone else had used about her.

The case is being heard by the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, and continues today. The judge heard the sides had agreed the case could proceed before a judge alone and not a judge and jury.

Opening the case yesterday, Turlough O’Donnell SC, for Ms Hickey, described the newspaper as having shown a “merciless contempt” for his client’s privacy and that of her son.

Mr O’Donnell said Ms Hickey had been in a relationship with Mr Agnew and they had a son, who was born in February 2006.

Ms Hickey, a musician who formerly played with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and who now works in public relations with the Communications Clinic, was required to attend the births, marriages and deaths office within three months of the child’s birth, Mr O’Donnell said.

They went to the office in May 2006 and, as they were coming out, they were photographed by someone who they later learned may have been working for the Sunday World.

Her solicitors wrote to the paper asking that no photos be published as this was a private family occasion, Mr O’Donnell said, but it subsequently published the photos with a headline “Twink’s Ex Shows Off Love Child” and other defamatory material.

The solicitors wrote again to the paper seeking undertakings not to publish the photos again, but the following month, another article and photo from the same occasion was published.

The newspaper denies any breach of privacy. It claims Ms Hickey was interviewed by Social and Personal magazine in August 2005 about the expected birth of her child, which she denies. The newspaper also claims the location of the photographs, outside the registry office, is a public place.