Lords refuse leave in Murray

Pushchair privacy claim brought by J.K. Rowling's son to proceed to trial

The House of Lords today refused Big Picture (UK) Ltd’s petition for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s interim ruling in the privacy claim involving photographs of J. K. Rowling’s son. 


In March this year the Court of Appeal held that the claimant had an arguable case on both the misuse of private information and the Data Protection Act points, overturning the August 2007 decision to strike the claim out.  The effect of the House of Lords’ ruling is that the claim should now proceed to trial, as the Court of Appeal envisaged.   


The claim, which alleges misuse of private information and breach of the DPA 1998, centres on a series of photographs of David Murray, which were taken when he was a 1 year-old, being pushed down a street in Edinburgh by his parents in his pushchair at a time when his mother was pregnant with David’s younger sister.


In August 2007 Mr Justice Patten acceded to an application by the remaining Defendant – Big Pictures (UK) Ltd, a photographic agency – to strike the claim out.  However, in March 2008 the Court of Appeal decided that the Judge had been wrong to conclude that the claim was unarguable and reinstated the claim, directing that the issues between the parties be tried.


An application by Big Pictures for permission to appeal against this decision was refused by the Court of Appeal.  In June, Big Pictures petitioned the House of Lords for leave to appeal.  It is this petition that the House of Lords (Lady Hale, Lord Rodger & Lord Mance) has refused today.


5RB‘s Godwin Busuttil (instructed by Schillings) is junior counsel for the Claimant, David Murray, while Big Pictures is represented by 5RB‘s Mark Warby QC and Jonathan Barnes (instructed by Solomon Taylor & Shaw).