Full case report

Paddick v Associated Newspapers Ltd (No.2)

Reference [2003] EWHC 2991 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Tugendhat J

Date of Judgment 10 Dec 2003


Summary

Privacy – Breach of Confidence – Disclosure – Whether truth/falsity of the allegations were relevant


Facts

Brian Paddick, the former Commander of Lambeth Police brought proceedings against the Mail on Sunday. The newspaper had paid Paddick’s former lover, James Renolleau £100,000 for a kiss ‘n’ tell expose published in March 2002. Renolleau alleged that he and Paddick had smoked cannabis together. Paddick claimed that the details published about his relationship and other personal details were an invasion of his privacy and/or a breach of confidence. Although he contended that they were false, Paddick did not sue on the allegations relating to drug taking. The newspaper defended the article as being in the public interest. Following the publication of the article, the allegations were investigated by the Police Complaints Authority, during which Paddick and Renolleau gave statements. Paddick disclosed the parts of thee statements dealing with the publication of the article, but redacted parts dealing with the allegations of drug taking. The newspaper sought disclosure of the redacted parts.


Issue

Whether truth/falsity of the allegations of drug taking was a relevant issue in the proceedings so as to give rise to an obligation to disclose the redacted parts of the witness statements.


Held

(1) Truth/falsity of the allegations of drug taking were not relevant in the proceedings and the Claimant had been justified in redacting those parts of the witness statements; (2) A party’s disclosure statement on the issue of relevance was usually conclusive: Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Ltd [2002] QB 321 and GE Capital Corporate Finance Group v Bankers Trust Co [1995] 1 WLR 172 considered. It would not be appropriate – as urged by the Defendants – for the Court to consider the documents so as to adjudicate on the claim of relevance.


Comment

This is the first instance where the Court has had to wrestle with the issue of truth/falsity in relation to a privacy claim. However, it still leaves open the interesting question of whether false allegations can be the subject of a privacy claim or whether in such an instance the Claimant can pursue only a defamation claim (with all its potential deficiencies). The case settled in December 2003 leaving the issue unresolved.


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Instructing Solicitors

Bindman & Partners for the Claimant


Links

Newspaper pays damages to officer - BBC
Police chief wins damages from Mail on Sunday - The Guardian