Rio Ferdinand v MGN Ltd [2011]

  • Created by: channyx
  • Created on: 20-03-20 22:25

A publisher's right to freedom of expression prevailed over an England football captain's right to privacy in respect of an article concerning his alleged relationship and communications with a woman. There was a public interest in showing that the image he had previously tried to convey of himself was false, and a substantial body of the public would expect higher standards from the England captain.

The court was required to determine whether publication by the respondent publisher (M) of an article about the claimant footballer (F) breached F's right to privacy or whether it was a legitimate exercise of the publisher's right to freedom of expression.

Before 2006 F had had a wild reputation. Articles published between 2006 and 2010 suggested, and F was reported as having said, that he had changed. However, in 2010 M published an article in its newspaper and on its website in which details were provided of F's alleged sexual relationship with a woman (S).

According to S, their relationship had commenced in 1996 or 1997 and, even after F was engaged, he had suggested meeting and they had communicated via text messages. She stated that all contact had ceased when F became captain of the England football team. The article, but not the website, included a photograph of S and F together in 1997 and screen shots of their text messages. It was agreed that the court should consider (i) whether the information was private in the sense that it was in principle protected by the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.8; (ii) if yes, whether F's interests yielded to M's art.10 rights.

Held: Judgment…


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