The applicants were a successful sportsman and his wife. They sought an injunction restraining the respondent newspaper from publishing details about an affair the first applicant had with X, a well-known celebrity,while in a relationship with the second applicant, but prior to their marriage.
The Court noted that both ECHR, arts 8 and 10 were engaged. In examining art 8, it accepted that sexual relations were an important element of this article. Given the secretive manner in which the affair was conducted, and the decision of X not to publicise the relationship for some time after, the applicants had a legitimate expectation of privacy. The Court did not believe that the first applicant’s position as a public figure meant that his relationships became public property. As a sportsman, it did not think it was correct to imply that he was also a role model of morality.
The Court did not believe that the art 10 rights of the respondent or X were sufficient to justify the interference with art 8. It did not accept that it was in the public interest to expose the information, disagreeing that the story tended to show he had misled the public or was a hypocrite.
The Court concluded that it was a proportionate interference with art 10 to temporarily restrain publication. While acknowledging that a certain amount of information about the affair was already in the public domain, it still considered that further publication would be a disproportionate interference with the applicants’ art 8 rights.
Finally, the Court held that anonymity orders, amounting to a derogation from open justice, were necessary and proportionate, as otherwise the purpose of the action would be defeated.
Hugh Tomlinson QC was involved in this case.