PJS v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2016]

  • Created by: channyx
  • Created on: 20-03-20 22:29

The Supreme Court upheld an interim injunction restraining publication of a story about a celebrity's extramarital sexual activities. Although the story and the celebrity's identity had been widely published overseas and online, the injunction served the purpose, pending a trial, of preserving the privacy interests of the celebrity, his partner and their young children. No genuine public interest in publication had been disclosed and without the interim injunction there would be further unrestricted and extensive coverage which would undermine the purpose of any trial.

A celebrity appealed against a decision setting aside an interim injunction restraining publication of a story about his extramarital sexual activities by the defendant newspaper group.

The celebrity was married with young children. He had allegedly engaged in extramarital sexual activities with another couple. The couple had approached the newspaper, which proposed to publish the story. The celebrity issued proceedings for misuse of private information and breach of confidence and obtained an injunction restraining publication of the details of the story and the names of those involved. The injunction was effective for 11 weeks, until a US magazine published the story and named those involved.

Other publications in the US, Canada and Scotland published similar hardcopy articles and details appeared on various websites and social media. The Court of Appeal set the injunction aside, on the ground that the information was already in the public domain. It found that the injunction served no useful purpose and was an unjustified interference with the newspaper's rights under ECHR art.10. The instant court restored the injunction pending the celebrity's appeal against that decision.

Held: Appeal allowed.

(Lord Toulson dissenting) (1) The Court of Appeal had made an error of law in its reasoning in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998 s.12 and the balancing of rights under ECHR art.8 and art.10. It had directed itself that s.12 enhanced the weight which rights under art.10 carried and raised the hurdle which a claimant had to overcome in order to obtain an interim injunction. That direction was contrary to authority, which established that neither article had preference over the other and where the two articles were in conflict, an intense focus on the comparative importance of the rights being claimed in the individual case was needed.


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