Photographer Has Defamation Action Thrown Out by Court After Claiming Dispute Over Nude Shoot in a Castle Has Ruined His Business

Photographer Has Defamation Action Thrown Out by Court After Claiming Dispute Over Nude Shoot in a Castle Has Ruined His Business

Back in 2017, a story emerged in which a Scottish photographer entered into a nasty legal battle with The National Trust over “artistic nudes” he shot inside one of their castles. Fast-forward a little over two years, and the photographer has now learned his defamation action has failed in seeking the £50,000 he says he’s owed after he claims the drama saw a 50% drop in bookings for the photography courses he runs.

Freelancer Howard Kennedy shot nude images of model Rachelle Summers in Craigievar Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland back in 2012. Four years later, the photos were spotted by Gabriel Forbes-Sempill, the daughter of the Lord who gifted the ancient castle to The National Trust in 1963. She says she doesn’t believe her parents had gifted Craigievar to the nation “for this sort of thing.”

Kennedy’s issue stemmed from only having verbal consent from the NTS, who later denied such permission and claimed they would never authorize such a photoshoot. Kennedy claims that denial damaged his reputation significantly, not least of which by making him look like a liar. Via London’s High Court, he hoped to receive £50,000 in compensation in a defamation suit. But since then, the High Court and the Court of Appeal has now ruled the case could not move forward, as it concerned two parties (in this case, Kennedy and the NTS) who were based in Scotland.

Subsequently, he has been rejected by three of the country’s most senior judges in his attempt to take the matter to the Supreme Court in London. They said the case did not “raise an arguable point of law”.

Kennedy’s legal team reason that the case should take place in England is due to the photographer’s “substantial business reputation in England”, which they claim has been damaged. They say bookings have taken a 50% dip since the dispute.

Lead image: Iain Cameron via Flickr CC.

Jack Alexander's picture

A 28-year-old self-taught photographer, Jack Alexander specialises in intimate portraits with musicians, actors, and models.

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I bet he is going to get a legal bill of £200k+ for this and probably will have to pay the other sides bill as will... really dumb case to take to court...

NTS protects their property zealously, you need shoot permits which are a pain to get as you have to detail the purpose of the shoot and the usage. Quite simply those rules will likely be broadly similar across properties except those being cared for at the behest of the families which may have additional restrictions.

There's no such thing as 'verbal agreement', if there was agreement with staff on site then that won't have any traction as their head office and shoot permit will have final say, especially if they deem the images to bring the properties or organisation into disrepute or create a unfavourable impression for PR.

The UK tends to be rather prudish in my experience and many of the castles I've visited nudes don't feature heavily in the properties mostly leaning towards familial and pastoral type paintings. If there is nudes then they've likely been loaned out to galleries or squirrelled away in private areas.

Howard runs 'model experience' courses, which to be honest spend any time on Fb or model sites and you can arrange yourself and that's likely the real reason for the drop in footfall rather than any defamation by the NTS.