Can the publicity hungy Sarkozy expect any privacy?

Nicolas Sarkozy has been a busy boy. In the last few months he has separated from his wife, become President of France, hooked up with and married Carla Bruni (who according to reports is already pregnant) and has sued Ryanair.

What have all these events got in common? No he didn't get hitched and father a child a mile high on a Ryanair flight - though Ryanair would have no doubt used the publicity - but he has been very much 'out there' and has not been shy in coming forward and presenting his life and his loves to the press. As Marcel Berlins points out in today's Guardian this creates both a conundrum and an opportunity for the French press - historically the door to politician's private lives has been closed both in fact and by the strict privacy laws that prevail through the French civil and penal codes but here we have mr 'speedy' or 'president bling bling' Sarkozy with an ex-wife who failed to ban a book containing comments about their private life and who was proud to parade his new model pop star wife in front of the world's media now seeking to ask courts to uphold his privacy. Mediabeak thinks not.

Judgment is expected tomorrow in Sarkozy's action against Ryanair over its use of a picture of him and Bruni in one of its ads. He might win on the unuauthorised use of image point or copyright but beyond that will the courts see through his selective use of privcacy laws?

In terms of adverts it was EasyJet who first used clever pictures - notably of Colin Ingram who had been accused of cheating on the UK National Lottery - it had a picture of him and his wife turning up for a court hearing with the caption 'Fancy a quick getaway? No Major fraud required' - needless to say the Ingrams didn't get far with their complaint as he had been a Major and a fraud and the picture had been properly obtained.

While Sarkozy might win the argument against use of his image for an advert - not that Mediabeak would grant judgment in his favour (aside from perhaps granting a share of royalty revenue) - any further attempts by him to secure the same protection over his privacy as his predecesors have enjoyed might put even the austere French privacy rules to the test. While the European courts have ruled - notably in the case of Hannover v Germany - that people irrespective of who they are should still be entitled to privacy if going about their private business, where what may be seen as 'private business' such as going on holiday with ones new girlfriend very much in the public eye and then marrying her at a private yet well leaked ceremony has been taken to the public and placed before the media then it would arguably be an abuse of the legal process to seek its cover to prevent coverage when the publicity that has served Sarkozy fairly well of late has been accepted if not actively welcomed.

Mediabeak will have more to say on the matter tomorrow once the judgment is known.

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