Madonna and her adopted twin daughters, Stelle and Estere, have accepted an undisclosed amount of money from Associated Newspapers over a “serious invasion of privacy.”
When the singer adopted the four-year-old girls earlier this year, she asked the media to “respect our privacy during this transitional time.” However, a MailOnline article, which was published in January, revealed the girls’ names, race, and age.
It also divulged that the girls lived in an orphanage in Malawi while the adoption applications were still pending.
Madonna, who officially adopted Stelle and Estere in February, took the case to London’s High Court, claiming that the article caused her “considerable personal distress,” according to her solicitor.
The case argued that disclosing the girls’ identities before the adoption was accepted could have put the children in danger. “The MailOnline published it at a time when, as the journalist ought to have appreciated, Madonna would be powerless to protect the girls from harm,” Madonna’s solicitor Jenny Afia told the court on Thursday (as reported by the BBC).
“Their actions could, in her view, have threatened the integrity and/or outcome of the adoption process which would have had potentially life-changing implications for the girls, as well as for Madonna and her family.”
“Many people in Malawi know of Madonna as an individual of fame and financial means,” she continued. The “Like A Prayer” hitmaker had previously adopted son David Banda in 2006 and Mercy James in 2009, both from Malawi orphanages.
Afia added: “In the circumstances, Madonna believes that it would (and should) have been self-evident to the reporter that the protection of the girls’ identities pending the decision about their potential adoption was likely to be vital for their safety and welfare.”
Following the court hearing, Afia said that Madonna brought the litigation out of protection for her girls’ safety.”[Madonna] will always take all possible steps to protect her family’s well-being.”
She also announced that Madonna would donate the damages to The Mercy James Institute for Paediatric Surgery, the children’s hospital the singer and her family opened in Malawi earlier this month.
Update: A spokesperson for MailOnline reached out to ETCanada to provide a statement giving their side of the story:
“MailOnline’s position was that Madonna’s own conduct in deliberately falsely denying the media reports concerning the proposed adoption prior to our publication was clearly relevant to the assessment of what information it was appropriate for us to publish, and the reasonableness of the belief that such publication was in the public interest,” the statement reads.
It continues: “Madonna had herself published photographs on her Instagram account of her family taking a particular interest in the girls, together with their names and location during the course of the adoption process. This information was thereby in the public domain at the time of publication and it is surprising that she did not consider that this global publication to many millions of her followers was in any way objectionable or would place the girls in any jeopardy, by contrast to our publication.”
“We had no intention whatsoever of exposing the girls to any harm and no reason to believe that they were in fact exposed to harm. Madonna has not refrained from publishing information in the context of family court proceedings relating to her other children in the past, and she did not suggest that the girls have at any time been aware of our publication.”