By George Matlock
The British Press Complaints Commission upheld on April 24, 2001, a complaint against the Sunday Mirror newspaper for publishing the address of the former wife of Elton John, Renate Blauel.
But the PCC rejected complaints from Ms Blauel that the article, headlined “Sad, lonely life of the woman who loved and lost Elton John”, represented an invasion of her privacy, harassment and misrepresentation.
The article, published in June 2000, compared Ms Blauel’s current lifestyle with her experiences with her former husband, and was accompanied by photographs of Ms Blauel in a gas petrol station forecourt.
The commission rejected complaints that Ms Blauel had “a reasonable expectation of privacy” in the petrol forecourt.
It failed to find evidence of harrassment by Sunday Mirror journalists and ruled that while the complainant may have been insulted by the tone of the article, this was a matter of “editorial comment”.
The adjudication stated: “It is not the commission’s job either to restrict this right or to afford individuals a veto over future publicity.”
It noted that the article had not published any details that could be considered to concern Ms Blauel’s private life.
Here, we reproduce the article, having taken the ruling into consideration – and therefore having REMOVED all material references to Renate’s address. As for the article, which we believe to be of public interest, you judge for yourselves:
Sad, lonely life of the woman who loved and lost Elton
Sunday Mirror, 4 June 2000
By GERARD COUZENS
EX-WIFE RENATE STILL SHUNS SPOTLIGHT AFTER 14 YEARS IN HER RURAL
IT IS only the Louis Vuitton handbag and green Mercedes coupe that hint at a rather more flamboyant past. No-one would guess the auburn-haired woman out on a rare shopping trip was once married to Britain’s most outrageous rock star.
Yet the middle-aged shopper dressed in a plain Breton top and navy blue jeans is Renate Blauel – former wife of Sir Elton John.
And while the Rocket Man is still making and spending millions, 46-year-old Renate is living as a virtual recluse in a small cottage in *** ENGLAND.
Evergreen trees shield her home from prying eyes and she goes out only to walk her spaniel – her only constant companion – or pick up groceries from the village shop.
Most of her days are spent inside the cottage she chose for its unusual name …***.
It could not be further away from her life with Elton. Her wedding dress on St Valentine’s Day in 1984 was studded with 63 diamonds and home was a magnificent mansion in Windsor.
Three years later it was all over, with Elton admitting that he was gay.
A £5million divorce settlement eased the pain, but not the hurt. Renate’s friends say she is still upset that the marriage ended – and they have not spoken for 14 years.
Neighbours in the village near **** – home to wealthy farming families, bank managers and successful chief executives – know little about her.
“This is a village with a very strong community spirit but she doesn’t get involved,” said one.
“People know she is Elton John’s ex-wife but very little else. You only ever see her walking her dog or doing the odd bit of shopping. She’s certainly not the socialising kind.”
Staff at the *** local Inn and the village hall and social centre say Renate has never stepped inside.
Maxine ****, one local who has got to know her, says: “She’s a lovely lady but a very private person who just wants to be left alone to get on with her life.”
Another added: “We don’t mention Elton’s name because we know it still upsets her. She’s as reluctant to talk about that time in private as she is in public.
“The warmth she’s found in the village has helped her get back on her feet. “She’s got a lot of people looking out for her who she knows she can call if she
has a problem, even if they don’t know her well.
“But there’s no doubt her failed marriage to Elton is behind the rather reclusive life she leads now. She sincerely believed their marriage was for life.”
In the warts-and-all TV documentary Tantrums and Tiaras, Elton, 53, spoke of his “deep sadness” that he had no contact with German-born Renate since they parted.
He told his boyfriend David Furnish, who made the film: “I hope one day that we can meet and be friends. We haven’t been in touch, we’ve had no contact at all which is very sad, but she wants it that way. I don’t have any negative things to say about her at all.”
Elton and Renate, a former air stewardess, met in the early Eighties after she started working as a recording engineer and became part of his entourage. They worked together on the Caribbean isle of Montserrat where she helped record his album Breaking Hearts.
Elton proposed at an Indian restaurant in Sydney, Australia – and they married just four days later.
When the marriage collapsed, Elton bought Renate’s new home and allegedly swore her to silence in return for the £5million divorce settlement.
And Renate is still maintaining that silence. From behind a half-open door all she would say was:
“I live very quietly here and people are very protective towards me.”
References marked **** denote where we have removed words or imposed a diffuse variation, to protect Renate’s ID
And while on the subject of their former marriage, this extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph March 11, 2000:
Staff arranged Elton John’s doomed 1980s wedding to Renate Blauel in just four days, with $20,000 spent on imported champagne and $6000 on all-white flowers flown from New Zealand. Total bill, according to OTHER PRESS, was $120,000.