Reykjavík Municipal Court on Thursday ordered a journalist and two editors of DV, an Icelandic newspaper issued three times a week, to pay 400 thousand ISK, (3.000 USD, 2.400 €) to soccer star Eidur Gudjohnsen (previously with Chelsea, Barcelona and Tottenham, but now with Fulham) for writing about his financial matters. The three, editors Reynir Traustason and Jón Trausti Reynisson (father and son) and journalist Ingi Freyr Vilhjálmsson, were also ordered to pay a 150 thousand ISK fine to the state.
Gudjohnsen’s lawyer, Heidrún Lind Marteinsdóttir, was happy about the result and said the court’s decision was a lesson for the media. Vilhjálmur H. Vilhjálmsson, solicitor for and brother of Ingi Freyr Vilhjámsson, bowed to Marteinsdóttir, but said this was only half time and the court’s decision would be appealed to the Supreme Court.
According to Morgunbladid the article about Gudjohnsen appeared in DV and the paper’s website the same day. The article spoke of Gudjohnsen’s debts in various banks and his investments in Turkey and Hong Kong. The article also claimed that Gudjohnsen had gotten loans through his soccer pals who now worked for banks. Furthermore, the paper wrote about his salary at the Monaco soccer club.
The defense held that the articles had been to inform the public of how banks in Iceland had provided loans. The collapse of the banks was the direct result of loans, such as these.
The judge did not agree. The verdict states that it is ok to write about Gudjohnsen’s salary. “However it is the court’s opinion that other aspects of the private matters of [Gudjohnsen] in DV can in no way be part of the public domain, even though [Gudjohnsen] is a notionally known soccer player. ... The article has no value as news, it is not objective and has no relation to [Gudjohnsen’s] job.”
Solicitor Vilhjálmsson said: “I think the media can now pack their stuff and go home and stop writing about the bank’s collapse and what caused it if this verdict stands.”
Gudjohnsen’s lawyer, on the other hand, hailed the decision and said that people had the right to privacy in their personal matters.