Reference:  EWHC 826 (QB)
Court: High Court (Queen's Bench Division)
Judge: Mr Justice Warby
Date of judgment: 25 Mar 2015
Summary: Footballer refused injunction over alleged blackmail plot
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William Bennett QC (Claimant)
Jacob Dean (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: Manleys for the Claimant, Cassell Moore for the Defendant
The Claimant (YXB) was a Premier League footballer. In late 2014 he had a brief sexual encounter with the Defendant (TNO). They then exchanged sexually charged text messages. He sent her sexually explicit pictures and video clips of his body.
TNO sold her story to The Sun. YXB came to hear of this before it was published and there was then a meeting between TNO and representatives of YXB. The accounts of the meeting differed. YXB’s case was that TNO demanded money not to publish the story. TNO’s case was that she was offered money by YXB’s representative. YXB then sought an injunction from the High Court, on an application made without notice to TNO, seeking an order restraining publication of the fact of the sexual encounter, the explicit messages, the visual material, and the identities of both parties. He alleged that TNO was blackmailing him. The injunction was granted by Walker J on 19 February 2015.
On 16 March 2015 Warby J heard YXB’s application to continue the injunction until trial. TNO filed evidence denying that she had been blackmailing YXB, and alleging that he had been trying to buy her off. She said that YXB’s friend (known in the case as “Mr X”) had failed to disclosure material evidence to the Court.
(1) Had there been material non-disclosure at the hearing before Walker J?
(2) What should the consequences of any material non-disclosure be?
(3) Should the injunction be continued?
TNO did not oppose a continuation of the injunction in relation to the photographs and video clips.
(1) There were three items of material non-disclosure.
(2) The failure by Mr X to disclose a text message between TNO and Mr X was “highly culpable” and sufficient alone to justify the discharge of the injunction granted by Walker J.
(3) Taking all the factors into account, including the material non-disclosure, the relative weakness of YXB’s case, and the rights of TNO, there should be no re-grant of any further injunction (save in relation to the visual material).
The injunction was continued pending a potential appeal.
This case picks up on and emphasises what was said in Terry about the need for proper evidence from a claimant seeking a privacy injunction. It shows that material non-dislosure may be a reason for discharging an interim injunction in privacy, and also a highly relevant factor in considering whether any further injunction should be reimposed.