Re G (Celebrities: Publicity)

Reference: [1999] 1 FLR 409

Court: Court of Appeal

Judge: Swinton Thomas, Thorpe and Clarke LJJ

Date of judgment: 23 Oct 1998

Summary: Family proceedings - press restrictions - celebrities - prohibition on taking or publishing photographs of children - prohibition on parents communicating with news media about each other or about children - prohibition on publishing order or summary of order - application by newspaper to discharge or vary court's order to permit publication of summary of court's decision

Appearances: Godwin Busuttil (Applicant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Farrer & Co for News Group


The divorce of the mother and father, both celebrities, attracted much publicity. The Official Solicitor, for the couple’s children, applied for wide ranging orders to protect the children from publicity. The first order was an order contra mundum restraining any person from taking or publishing photographs of the children. The second, made with the consent of both parents, prevented the parents from discussing their children in the media and disclosing what had happened in the course of the proceedings. The third prevented the publication of the text or a summary of the result of the proceedings. News Group Newspapers applied to discharge the first and second orders. The judge refused. News Group appealed.


Whether the orders made should be varied to permit the applicant to publish photographs of the children taken before the orders were made and to report the result of the proceedings.


Appeal allowed in part. The first order was amended to permit the publication of photographs taken before the orders were made. The second order would remain: although it was intended primarily to impose a discipline on the family, it was not desirable to frame it in such a way as to protect a third party who knew of the order from being in contempt of court if he published information from the mother or father in breach of the order. The third order went too far. The court should have issued a statement approved by the judge and agreed between the parties.


The Court of Appeal defined the operation of section 12, AJA 1960 and how ‘domestic’ orders made in family proceedings may affect the media.