Tulisa Contostavlos may have won the sex tape court case, but the damage is irreparable
When Tulisa Contostavlos’ sex tape was released in March, I wrote a blog in defence of the singer – and indeed for other women who have had their private videos exposed to the public.
There seems to be a common assumption that those who perform for a living would do anything to heighten their fame – even if it means releasing a video of them as a teenager performing fellatio on their partner. One comment on the blog read:
“A publicity stunt if there ever was one!” A common sentiment at the time.
Amongst the wave of cynicism where PR is concerned, it’s more than apparent that many stories are released in order to create ripples of interest in a product or person. Despite this being the reality of celebrity and gossip laden culture, with the cynicism must come willingness to sometimes allay that sense of doubt.
In the case of Tulisa, a singer, most known for her role as an X Factor judge, many doubted the coincidental timing of the release of her first solo single in the same week of the sex tape revelations, but now the High Court’s ruling has been revealed. It’s been ruled that MC Ultra Edwards, her boyfriend at the time of making the video, but ex-boyfriend at the time of release, has admitted that he did in fact release the tape, and Tulisa had nothing to do with it.
Due to legal reasons, any reporting of the case back in March had to assert that while Tulisa had believed the leaking of the tape to be the doing of MC Ultra, this was her opinion – as he’d stalwartly denied the accusation. Reporting the case was more frustrating. If he was the only one who owned the video, how else would it have been leaked?
Her solicitor, Jonathan Coad, today said that although the MC was not present for the hearing, by consenting to the statement, he acknowledged that he was responsible for causing the publication of the video, without the knowledge or consent of Tulisa, by entrusting it to someone else who then entered into a number of commercial arrangements.
On the day the video was leaked, he had tweeted:
“I didn’t wanna say anything on the subject but I see peoples imagination running away.. it’s nothing to do with me. #backtowork.”
So indeed, although it’s often easy to assume that stories in the press have been released by the shrewd PR teams behind stars, sometimes the stars are victims. It was commendable for Tulisa to make a video to tell her side of the story at the time – when it’s generally advisable to keep quiet or allow a press team to release a carefully crafted statement.
As I described before, in the UK, it’s unlawful to share a sex tape that involves someone else (without permission) in the sense that is breaches privacy laws, but not illegal in the criminal sense.
This means you can be sued for releasing a sex tape without the permission of the other party – but usually no criminal repercussions are involved.
The humiliation she would have suffered as a result of having something so intimate being released is in no way something that a financial payout could have possibly rectified. I’m sure the singer’s salary means she’s doing alright without it. Fortunately, the hearing has secured an agreement from Mr Edwards that he will no longer speak publicly about their relationship, so he won’t be cashing in any further on her distress.
Another common argument to hold is that it was her choice to allow a film to be made, thus putting her at risk. But ultimately the video was to be shared between the two of them – not released into the public domain.
It’s not a matter of Us vs Them, Rich celebs vs Normal People. A girl had a very personal video she made when she was a teenager watched by millions. She was then called a slut, attention seeker, liar and even had her sexual technique critiqued at length.
Add to the humiliation the implicit defamation of character which saw the singer’s integrity denounced on a national scale, and any form of financial compensation seems simply worthless.
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