JK Rowling in court over photo of son

HARRY POTTER author JK Rowling went back to court today to try to ban publication of a photograph taken in the street of her son David when he was 18 months old.

The picture, showing Rowling and her husband, Dr Neil Murray, with the child in a buggy, was taken by a photographer using a long-range lens and appeared in the Sunday Express magazine to illustrate an article about her approach to motherhood and family life.

The Edinburgh author – suing under her real name, Mrs Joanne Murray – failed in a High Court action last year against Express Newspapers and the agency which supplied the photograph, Big Pictures (UK).

Express Newspapers has settled the claim.

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Mr Justice Patten had ruled there was no right of privacy for famous people engaged in routine activities such as shopping. He said there was no prohibition on the taking or publishing such photographs unless it caused harassment or distress.

Today Richard Spearman QC, representing the child, told a panel of three appeal judges: "This claim is not about the rights of adults, this is about the rights of the child."

The author and her husband claim that the child's right to privacy had been infringed and want damages and an injunction banning further publication of the photograph or any other picture taken of him without his consent.

Mark Warby QC, representing Big Pictures, said the claimant's lawyers were arguing that the child had been "molested" and that there was every chance that this would happen again in the future.

"The reality is that the claimant's lawyers have never been able to identify any concrete way in which the child has been harmed."

Lawyers say the bid by the author to prevent publication of the photographs of her son, who is now four, will be watched closely by celebrities.

The family were unaware that the photograph, taken in 2004 in an Edinburgh street, was being taken and did not consent to it.

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Proceedings were issued in June 2005 for an injunction preventing further publication of the photograph, along with damages for infringement of privacy.

At the High Court hearing the judge said the case was "seen by the claimant's parents as something of a test case designed to establish the right of persons in the public eye to protection from intrusion into parts of their private life even when they consist of activities conducted in a public place".

Mr Justice Patten noted the efforts of JK Rowling to keep her children out of the limelight.

• Rowling says her lifelong ambition is to write a book about a stand-up comedian.

The millionaire writer, 42, who is currently working on a Harry Potter encyclopaedia, says she has a 'real thing' about the idea but hasn't started working on it yet.

Rowling confirmed she has two other projects in the pipeline including a 'political fairytale'.

She also revealed she gets accosted in coffee houses by aggressive eBayers looking for an autograph to cash in on.

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Rowling says she still aims to fulfil her ambition, so long as nobody else beats her to it.

She said: "I've always wanted to write a novel about a stand-up comedian.

"That is not what I'm writing though so if something comes out next week, that's not me, I'm not doing it.

"But for ages, I had a real thing about it."

The writer went on to reveal she is currently working on two other projects, one she dubbed a 'political fairytale' while the other is a more adult-orientated story.

However, while the former is nearing completion, the latter may never get past the planning stage.