In a judgment handed down today Mr Justice Warby has awarded damages of £83,000 for misuse of private information to a claimant who was identified by the MailOnline as someone who had been arrested in connection with the Manchester Arena Terrorist attack.
Mr Sicri was identified by the newspaper, despite the fact that the police had not identified him in press releases about the arrest. Mr Sicri was subsequently released without charge. It was accepted by the MailOnline and the Judge that Mr Sicri did not have anything to do with the terrorist attack; he did not know Abedi, or anything about the attack other than what had been broadcast and reported in the media.
The Judge held that Mr Sicri had a right to expect that the MailOnline would not publish his identity as the man arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Manchester Arena bombing. The MailOnline had violated that right and it had no, or no sufficient public interest justification for identifying Mr Sicri. The fact that other newspapers later identified Mr Sicri did not mean that the MailOnline was not liable: Mr Sicri’s right to have the MailOnline respect his privacy was not defeated or significantly weakened by the fact that others failed to do so. The Judge criticised the MailOnline journalists’ evidence finding that it was justification with hindsight and that they had not thought about Mr Sicri’s privacy rights at the time they published the article identifying him.
The Judge awarded Mr Sicri £50,000 general damages for the loss of status, distress, anxiety and other emotional harm he had suffered. There was no award for ‘reputational damages’ – the judgment considers in detail the availability of damages for injury to reputation in a claim for misuse of private information. The judgment also considers the applicability of the rule in Dingle v Associated Newspapers to a claim for misuse of private information. He awarded him £33,000 in special damages for the costs relating to the removal of repetitions of the private information.
Antony White QC acted for Associated Newspapers, instructed by Keith Mathieson at RPC LLP