The tangled world of privacy, celebrity and the law is rarely edifying, orenlightening. Even more rarely is it ever enlightened.
For those reasons it’s a pleasure to be able to re-publish a few paragraphsfrom whatlooks like a sensible and decent judgement in yet another case where an anonymous celebrity has succeeded in injuncting a newspaper intent on publishing a kiss and tell story.
- The next issue which we must consider is whether the press articles and similar material went further than portraying commitment. Were the claimant and YMA presenting an image of monogamy to the world? I interject to say that the word “monogamy” has been used in the documents and in counsel’s submissions to mean “faithfulness in sexual matters to one’s partner or spouse”; it has not been used in the original sense of the word, meaning having only one husband or wife.
- The bundle of material which the defendant has assembled only contains two references to monogamy. Both those references occurred before the claimant began his sexual relationship with AB. Mr Millar submitted that press articles remain on the internet forever. Therefore, the claimant was under a duty to correct them when they became false. In my view, that submission is unrealistic and I reject it. A person cannot normally be expected to sift through historic material about himself on the internet and to amend statements which have become incorrect.
- I have read and re-read the bundle of publicity material many times. This represents the best evidence that the defendant has been able to assemble in respect of a substantial period of many years. There are, as I say, just two references by the claimant to monogamy. One of those references is in answer to a direct question of the kind discussed by Toulson and Phipps at paragraph 7-054. In my view the picture which emerges from the publicity material is not one of total marital fidelity, but rather a picture of a couple who are in a long term, loving and committed relationship. On the present evidence, that image is an accurate one.
- If the defendant publishes the proposed story, this will not set the record straight in any material respect. It will simply reveal that one feature of the claimant’s and YMA’s long term relationship is that the claimant is allowed to have occasional sexual encounters with others. That would provide supplementary information, but it would not correct a false image.
The court seems to have struck asensiblebalance, and to have explored monogamy with some care, without accepting the definition insisted upon by the newspaper. Defining monogamy as being about how you live, not who you sleep with, unless you explicitly state that sexual fidelity is part of the deal, seems to me to be a very sensible approach that limits the scope of media intrusion into matters in which we all have an expectation of privacy.