Singer McKennitt wins privacy ruling in U.K. court

Canadian Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt won a privacy case in a U.K. court on Thursday that could have a big impact on press coverage of celebrities.

Canadian Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt won a privacy case in a U.K. court on Thursday that could have a big impact on press coverage of celebrities.

A London high court judge upheld a judgment against her former friend and employee Niema Ash, who had written a book called Travels with Loreena McKennitt: My Life as a Friend.

McKennitt won an injunction stopping sale of the book and Ash was fined £5,000($11,360)in a lower courtruling in 2005.

On Thursday, Lord Justice Buxton dismissed Ash's appeal and saidhe took into consideration that McKennitt very carefully guarded her personal privacy.

Passages in the book covered personal and sexual relationships, McKennitt's feelings about her fiance who drowned in 1998, and other personal details about her health and diet and emotional state.

The court agreedthat various passages in the book were intrusive, insensitive and distressing and should not be made public under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the right to respect for private and family life.

The high court dismissed the argument that Ash had a right to freedom of expression that outweighed McKennitt's right to privacy.

"I am very grateful to the courts who have recognized that every person has an equal right to a private life," McKennitt said after the ruling.

"If an aspect of career places one directly in the public eye or if extraordinary events make an ordinary person newsworthy for a time, we still should have the basic human dignity of privacy for our home and family life," she said.

The case could set a precedent for a celebrity's right to privacy, especially as it is an early ruling under Britain's newhuman rightslegislation.

It also could affect how far the media go in pursuing news about a celebrity's private life.

The judges ruled that the confidences McKennitt made in her friend Ash were meant to be respected and it was a breach of confidence forAsh to repeat many of the stories.

Ash's representative David Price said the ruling was a blow to freedom of expression.

"The judgment below is a triple whammy against freedom of expression — that freedom being not merely the right of an author to impart information but also to the public's right to receive it if they so choose," he told the court.

But McKennitt said the ruling strikes the right balance.

"As an artist I naturally feel strongly about freedom of expression, and I feel vindicated that the law supported my view that freedom comes with responsibility for decency, fairness and truth," she said.