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Court allows appeal and grants injunction against father’s book dedicated to son with disabilities due to an account of childhood sexual abuse

OPO v MLA & Anor [2014] EWCA Civ 1277

Related Member(s):
Hugh Tomlinson QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Healthcare, Mental Health and Mental Capacity, Injunctions, Media and Information Law
Court:

MLA was a performing artist. OPO was a child and the son of MLA and BHM, his litigation friend. STL was a commercial publisher. The father had written a semi-autobiographical book for publication in the UK and other jurisdictions. The book gave an account of the serious childhood sexual abuse suffered by the father over many years.

The book was dedicated to his son. The son was born in the UK, but since his parents’ divorce now lives in another country with his mother. He suffers from significant disabilities: he has a diagnosis of a combination of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Asperger’s syndrome, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia. Evidence of two child psychologists suggested that the child would be at risk of serious psychological harm if he were exposed to the accounts given by the father in the book.

The child applied for an injunction against the publication of the book until the matter was heard at a full trial. He contended that publication of the book should be restrained on three bases: (1) that publication would represent misuse of private information; (2) that it would be a breach of the duty of care owed by the father to his son; and (3) that publication would amount to the deliberate infliction of emotional harm under the tort recognised in Wilkinson v Downton [1897] QB 57.

The Court allowed the appeal and granted the injunction only under the head of challenge that publication of the book could amount to the deliberate infliction of emotional harm under the tort recognised in Wilkinson v Downton.

Hugh Tomlinson QC was involved in this case.