Privacy vs Publicity – last week, the Supreme Court seems to have determined that even though most of the rest of the world has decided that publicity and public interest is more important that privacy, here in England, privacy reigns supreme. Very odd – particularly as it is not too difficult to locate the identity of the celebrity concerned online.
The Supreme Court upheld the High Court Injunction in favour of the celebrity (PJS) preventing Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd from publishing the secret sexual affairs between PJS and an unidentified couple (YMA). To be honest, us at Pinder Reaux were rather surprised at this decision as a fairly simple search on Google and the information is easily found.
The Court of Appeal initially lifted the injunction entitling publication of the identity and details of the extra marital activities. It was argued that the identity of the celebrity had already been published outside of England and Wales and that the information is widely available on the internet. The balance for the Court to consider was whether it was in the public interest to remove the injunction. In lifting the injunction, Lord Justice Jackson said appeal judges had concluded that "knowledge of relevant matters" was "now so widespread" that confidentiality had "probably been lost". The Court suggested the injunction was ineffective as much of the damage was prevalent. Quite right.
However, with no expense spared, PJS immediately took the matter to the Supreme Court who upheld the original decision to gag the Newspaper Group. The controversial decision has a familiarity reminiscent to the Super Injunction obtained by the well known footballer, Ryan Giggs concerning his relationship with Imogen Thomas, only later for his anonymity to be set aside. It begs the question what effect, if any, an injunction has if it is only imposable on England and Wales? It is painfully apparent that when an individual applies for an injunction of this kind, the public become even more interested in what secrets are being supressed and scouring the internet to find the ‘gagged’ information is certainly not a difficult task.
Conversely, the right to privacy is of the upmost importance. The difficulty of policing the Internet is one that the world is faced with and will continue to face in the future. As specialists in Media Law we know too well about the potential risks that individuals face when trying to protect their privacy. In the modern day its not just the newspapers that we are up against, it’s the many millions of websites that we challenge day in and day out removing images, articles, videos and any other form of reporting.
Likewise we now see that PJS is turning to the Internet to supress the online content of the following on from the Injunction. Twitter users are being individually targeted, being told to remove content associated with the revelations. With the sheer number of Twitter users already discussing the identity of this celebrity, it will be interesting to see what action PJS’ legal team take against the individual account holders, if they refuse to delete their Tweets, or if they republish the same.
At Pinder Reaux, our media team can help maintain your privacy – but timing is key. If information comes to light concerning you, legal protection can be obtained BEFORE the press become involved – to stop any form of publication. Once the information has been released, even if England appears to like injunctions, the internet is the wild west, where almost anything goes.
Pinder Reaux & Associates