01:07, June 14 165 0 theguardian.com

2018-06-14 01:07:20
The Sun pays damages over revenge porn images of lottery claimant

The Sun is paying substantial damages to relatives of a woman whose lottery jackpot claim was rejected after it published revenge porn images of her on its website and in print.

Susanne Hinte, who died last year, hit the headlines in early 2016 when she tried to claim a £33m prize with a ticket that she said had been damaged in the wash. Camelot rejected her claim but Hinte became a brief favourite with the tabloids, who gave her the nickname “Lotto Gran”.

Later that year Hinte’s former friend Julie Howard sold topless pictures of Hinte to the Sun for £750. She went on to tell police she had done it to humiliate Hinte after they fell out. She obtained the pictures after Hinte borrowed her phone, which automatically copied the images from Hinte’s sim card to its memory. The Sun published the photographs on its website and in print on Sunday 2 April 2017.

In January 2017 Howard was found guilty of disclosing private sexual images with intent to cause distress, and received a fine and a six-week suspended sentence. She was convicted under a law the Sun had campaigned for in 2014. The newspaper claims it did not know the images it bought from her were stolen.

Hinte died suddenly of a heart attack in September 2017, aged 49.

Her daughter, Natasha Douglas, pursued a claim against News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publisher of the Sun, on behalf of her mother’s estate. The claim was for the misuse of private information, breach of confidence, copyright and data protection law and the distress that the article caused to Hinte.

NGN has not admitted liability but has settled for a five-figure sum. When the settlement is read in open court on Thursday morning it will be the first statement ever to be read in open court in a privacy case for a deceased person.

Nick McAleenan, a partner and media and data privacy law specialist at JMW Solicitors, who acted on behalf of Hinte’s estate, said: “This was a serious intrusion and misuse of Susanne’s private information. The Sun showed a complete disregard for her legal rights. As a direct result of its decision to publish the distasteful and unnecessary article, she and her children suffered considerable embarrassment, upset and distress. They were subjected to relentless abuse, mockery and harassment, both in person and online.”

Douglas said: “I felt very strongly that it was important to continue this claim against the Sun on behalf of my late mother, not only because it’s what she would have wanted but also to hold them accountable and make other people aware that it’s totally unacceptable to intrude into someone’s life as they did in this case.

“Their actions caused a huge amount of pain – revenge porn is an awful thing, no matter who you are. We are all entitled to a private life, but they stole my mother’s dignity.”

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