Full case report

Theakston v MGN Limited

Reference [2002] EWHC 137 (QB); [2002] EMLR 398
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Ouseley J

Date of Judgment 14 Feb 2002


Summary

Breach of Cofidence – Privacy – Data Protection Act 1998 – interim injunction – Photographs -section 12 Human Rights Act 1998


Facts

The Claimant, Jamie Theakston, was photographed without his consent whilst in a brothel in Mayfair. He had been drinking with friends that night, and could not remember much of what happened whilst at the brothel. He received various text messages on his mobile telephone over the few weeks following his visit in which he was told that the prostitutes would go to the press with photographs of him whilst at the brothel unless he paid them money. The prostitutes took their story to the Sunday People, and the injunction sought to prevent publication both of the details of the Claimant’s activities whilst in the brothel and the photographs which were taken there without his consent.


Issue

Whether the details of the Claimant’s acts whilst at the brothel and the information contained in the photographs were private or confidential and whether he was entitled to an injunction to prevent publication.


Held

The Claimant had previously placed certain aspects of his love and sexual life in the press. Not all relationships of a sexual nature should be afforded the same quality of confidence. Even more so where, as here, the Claimant did not at the time he entered the brothel stipulate that his activities in the brothel should be kept confidential. Further, there was a public interest in publishing the fact that he had behaved in the manner he had, given his public role as a television presenter who was perceived as a respectable figure to present programmes aimed at young people. The photographs however, merited special consideration as the details contained in them were likely to be of an especially intimate, personal and intrusive nature, and consequently the Claimant’s right to keep the details contained in them private outweighed the papers’ and the prostitutes’ rights of freedom of expression.


Comment

This case was interesting because of contrast between the protection afforded to the Claimant in relation to photographs of him taken whilst in the brothel as contrasted with the details provided by the prostitutes of his time spent with them at the brothel. The photographs were taken without the Claimant’s consent and the Judge regarded this as an important distinction between the photographs and the information provided by the prostitutes. The prostitutes’ rights of freedom of expression were given as much weight as the Claimant’s right to privacy when carrying out the balancing exercise and notwithstanding the fact that there was evidence that they had attempted to blackmail him before going to the press.


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Instructing Solicitors

Schilling & Lom and Partners


Links

Development of new privacy law boosted by Human Rights Act - The Guardian
Judgment
Press versus privacy - BBC
Theakston 'sorry' over sex stories - BBC