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Supreme Court of Denmark

Acquittal for hidden camera footage 

Case no. 181/2011
Judgment 17 April 2012
 

The Prosecution
vs.
T1 and T2

Acquittal for hidden camera footage for use in documentation of illegal dog trade

T1 and T2, a photographer and a journalist on a TV programme, called at F's address claiming that they wanted to buy a puppy. Using a hidden camera, they recorded footage and audio of F while she was in her kitchen, which was used as a showroom and sales room and where there were a large number of dogs. The footage and audio were not blurred out in the TV programme, where F's name was also mentioned.

The accused had been acquitted by the District Court, but been found guilty of unlawful shooting of footage in a non-public place by the High Court.

The majority of the Supreme Court stated that shooting footage with a hidden camera is generally highly concerning, and that this approach can only be justified following a careful weighing of the public interest relative to the individual's right to protection. The hidden camera footage was shot in F's home because her home was used for commercial trading, and the majority found no basis for setting aside the journalistic assessment that the unlawful trading could not be proven without using a hidden camera. As the TV programme raised issues of great public interest concerning animal welfare etc., and since the offence against F was modest, the majority regarded shooting the footage as lawful. 

The minority stated that shooting the footage amounted to a serious infringement of F's right to protection of her privacy and home, and that the criminal offence to be documented by the hidden camera footage was of little public interest. The minority remarked that, pursuant to the rules of the Danish Administration of Justice Act, F would be protected against the police shooting such footage, and that the dog trade could have been disclosed in another way. Consequently, based on a general assessment, the minority found that shooting the footage was a punishable offence.

In accordance with the majority of votes, the Supreme Court, thus, acquitted T1 and T2.

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