Right to respect for private and family life - Freedom of expression

Spelman (by his litigation friends) v Express Newspapers: Queen's Bench Division (Mr Justice Lindblom): 15 February 2012

The claimant was the son of a cabinet minister. The defendant was a newspaper consortium. One of its newspapers, the Daily Star Sunday, obtained private information relating to the claimant, which it wished to publish on 12 February 2012. Before it could do so, the claimant made an application to restrain publication, and for anonymity in the proceedings.

The issues were whether: (i) an injunction should be granted to restrain publication of the private information; and (ii) the claimant should be granted anonymity. Consideration was given to article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court ruled: (1) The injunction would be granted. The defendant's intended story contained sensitive personal information. It was enough, in the instant case, to attract a reasonable expectation of privacy such as to engage the claimant's rights under article 8 of the Convention. In addition, it was more likely than not that the publication of the story would have a significant harmful effect on the claimant.

By contrast, publication of the story would not advance the public interest claimed for it to any material degree. On a balance all these factors, the claimant had made his case out (see [16]-[18], [24]-[27] of the judgment). Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2004] 4 All ER 617 applied; Murray v Express Newspapers plc [2008] All ER (D) 70 (May) applied; Bonnard v Perryman [1891-4] All ER Rep 965 considered; S (a child) (identification: restriction on publication), Re [2004] 4 All ER 683 considered; DFT v TFD [2010] All ER (D) 103 (Oct) considered.

(2) The instant case was not one in which the court should take the exceptional course of anonymising the proceedings. The parties were afforded sufficient protection by being named in the normal way in the proceedings while the subject matter of the application and the precise nature of the relief granted were withheld from the public domain (see [35] of the judgment). Secretary of State for the Home Department v AP (No. 2) [2010] 4 All ER 259 applied; JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2011] 2 All ER 324 applied.

Jacob Dean for the claimant; Christina Michalos for the defendant.