Ned Rocknroll’s High Court Win Puts Spotlight On Privacy Law

Injunction Over Publication Of Photos Extended

10.01.2013

The successful high court bid by the husband of Kate Winslet to prevent The Sun from publishing ‘embarrassing’ photographs of him has demonstrated the important role that privacy law can play and put a spotlight on the decisions that courts make on the issue, according to a legal expert.

An injunction originally issued last week over the pictures of Ned Rocknroll at a fancy dress party has been extended by a judge, who has also stated that he would hand down written reasons for the decision within 10 days.

The Sun had argued that Rocknroll had become a public figure and the publication of the allegedly semi-naked photographs would have been justified.

However, this was disputed by Rocknroll’s legal team who stated the photographs were taken at a fancy dress party with an “outrageous” theme by a private individual and not with the intention to be shared with the general public.

Rebekah Finch, a solicitor and expert in privacy law at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said the case was another prime example of the public and media’s growing interest in celebrity culture.

She explained: “There is demand for information relating to an individual’s private life, such as details relating to their family, finances, their sex life and personal relationships.

“As this highlights, an individual seeking to prevent the publication of private information has options and should seek immediate specialist legal advice. It may be possible to persuade a publisher to think again on an article, change the content or, in some cases, obtain an injunction.

“Even if private information has already been published, an individual should also seek legal advice as they may be entitled to damages which could be achieved through negotiation without the need for legal proceedings to be commenced.”

Rebekah added that the law in the UK recognises that everyone is entitled to a private life.

She said: “interestingly, an individual is unable to bring a claim for breach of privacy as such, as there is no distinct law of privacy within the UK.

“However, the introduction of the Human Rights Act, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into our legislation, led to the House of Lords deciding that a person may bring a claim for breach of confidence where there has been wrongful disclosure of private information.

“When considering whether information is private, the Court will consider whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to such information.  Particular categories of information can be regarded as private details such as intimate conversations or revelations, personal identity including photographs, sexual relationships, an individual’s home and family life, an individual's state of health and his medical treatment and financial information.

“Information will not be considered by the Court as ‘private’ if the information relates to a matter of public interest, if the information is trivial or if the information is already in the public domain and accessible to the public.”