Menu My portfolio: 0

De-arrested appellant had no reasonable expectation of privacy, to stop reporting of matters discussed at trial

Khuja (formerly known as PNM) v Times Newspapers Ltd & Ors [2017] UKSC 49

Related Member(s):
Gavin Millar QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Media and Information Law, Human Rights
Court:

On appeal from [2014] EWCA Civ 1132.

Arises out of the trial of nine men on charges involving organised child sex grooming and child prostitution in the Oxford area. Seven of the men were convicted. Khuja had been arrested during the police investigation but subsequently de-arrested.

After the police released the appellant from arrest without charge, two newspapers applied to lift a Crown Court order postponing his identification in contemporaneous reports of the criminal trial on the ground that there were now no “pending or imminent” proceedings against the appellant that might be prejudiced by publication. The appellant then applied unsuccessfully for a High Court injunction to prevent his identification.

By a majority of 5-2, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. The appellant was seeking to prohibit the reporting of matters discussed at public trial. These are not matters about which he can have had any reasonable expectation of privacy. The impact on the appellant’s family life is indirect and incidental: neither he nor his family participated in any capacity at trial, and nothing that was said at trial related to his family. It would be incoherent for the law to refuse an injunction in defamation to prevent damage to the appellant’s reputation directly, while granting it to prevent the collateral impact on his family life in the same circumstances. The public interest in allowing the press reporting of court proceedings extends to the appellant’s identity. The policy which permits media reporting on judicial proceedings depends on (i) the right of the public to be informed about a significant public act of the state, and (ii) the law’s recognition that the way in which
the story is presented is a matter of editorial judgment. The appellant’s identity was not an irrelevant feature of this particular story.

The minority, take the view that Lord Rodger in In re Guardian News and Media Ltd was stating a legal presumption that courts should act on the basis that most people believe that someone
charged with an offence is innocent until proven guilty, but that he had offered no evidence or authority to support such a presumption. Lord Kerr and Lord Wilson conclude that there was no basis for the presumption and, accordingly, the judge erred in dismissing the appellant’s application relying on that observation.

Gavin Millar QC was involved in this case.