The moral of the story? Don't bug Nicole Kidman.
An Australian paparazzo who sued a Sydney newspaper, claiming his reputation was damaged by its reporting of his aggressive pursuit of the Oscar winner, now faces a massive six-figure legal bill stemming from the case.
Jamie Fawcett filed a defamation lawsuit against Fairfax Media over a 2005 article in the Sun-Herald newspaper that painted him as the city's "most inventive and disliked freelance photographer" and as someone "determined to wreak havoc on Kidman's private life" by planting a listening device outside Kidman's home.
While the enterprising shutterbug actually won his suit when a jury ruled last year that the paper had tarnished his good name, a New South Wales State Supreme Court judge essentially reversed that decision, ruling that not only did Fairfax not have to pay damages to Fawcett, but that he would have to foot the publisher's legal fees.
Judge Carolyn Simpson cited the actress' tearful testimony that she feared for her own life after the photographer chased her in a car as the reason for denying him damages, noting his behavior in getting the shot was out of bounds to say the least.
"He is a man who makes his living from taking and selling candid photographs...of famous people; he had made a goal of obtaining photographs of Ms. Kidman; he had waited all day, unrewarded, for a photograph of her," the judge said in her opinion. "He was clearly motivated to obtain such a photograph, and he recognized that his remaining opportunities on that evening were very limited indeed."
Simpson went on to add that Kidman's contentions that she was being wiretapped and that she worried about her own safety were "substantially true."
Taking the stand on behalf of Fairfax back in November, the 40-year-old thesp noted that Fawcett had been shadowing her for years. She also recalled one particularly distressing incident when he and another carload of shutterbugs who worked for him chased her in her car on her way to her mother's house, an episode that she said left her "really, really scared" and forced her to crouch down in the backseat.
"I was absolutely terrified and was thinking, 'I hope I don't die like this,' " Kidman testified. "When I got out of the car, I was shaking, my heart was pounding."
The Invasion star added that Fawcett and company ran red lights and jumped a median in their pursuit, forcing her own driver to jump a curb, and said she was "deeply disturbed" by the discovering of the listening bug under a water meter that very same morning.
The judge agreed with Kidman's concerns and ruled that the newspaper's statements that Fawcett was a "cowboy" and "a recklessly, irresponsible photojournalist" were accurate, especially since he practically stalked the blond beauty and her husband everywhere they went, including following them to Tahiti on their honeymoon.
Outside the courtroom, the lensman expressed dismay with the decision and hinted he might appeal.
"It is very disappointing—it is not the outcome I wanted," Fawcett said.
Kidman's rep was unavailable for comment.