January 7, 2009
Murderer wins photos injunction
Belfast court prohibits publication of unpixellated photos of convicted killer
The High Court in Northern Ireland has granted a man jailed for 21 years for a “brutual and callous sexual murder” an injunction restraining Independent News & Media, publishers of the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life newspapers, among other titles, from printing unpixellated photographs of him.
Kenneth Callaghan was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of 21 year-old Carol Jane Gouldie in 1987. Sunday Life had published a number of articles about him in recent years, the effect of which Mr Justice Stephens summarised as describing Callaghan as someone who “poses a significant risk to the public”, who “is and remains a very sick individual, a psycho, a sex beast and evil.”
Late last year after various psychological assessments Callaghan entered a prisoner assessment unit and was allowed into the community on day release. Photographers from Sunday Life took photographs of him sitting in a café and in a shopping centre. When Callaghan learned of the intended publication of these photographs, he applied for and was granted an interlocutory injunction restraining their publication in unpixellated form.
Sunday Life‘s next edition was headlined “Life ordered not to publish pictures of killers and rapists” and contained a number of articles which the judge held were calculated to and did “incite hatred” against Callaghan.
The judge found that Callaghan had not established that publication of an unpixellated photograph would create a real and immediate risk to his life, but it would cause “disruption to his home, his private life and his family connections through acts of violence.”
As Callaghan had a relevant reasonable expectation of privacy and his Article 8 rights were not outweighed by the defendants Article 10 rights in all the circumstances, in particular in respect of the disclosure of his precise whereabouts in the context of hostile articles which lacked balance, the judge granted the injunction on the basis of misuse of private information and harassment, and also restrained publication of his address and various other details.
Stephens J criticised the defendant publisher for “seeking to introduce its own Megan’s law irrespective of whether it is in the public interest and without proper regard for the accuracy of what they have published.” He noted what he described as an “inherent contradiction” in the newspaper’s case: it accepted that it would be irresponsible to reveal Callaghan’s precise location, yet still sought to publish his unpixellated photograph, which would have that effect to those in his immediate community.
The judge also made an order of much wider effect in favour of the second plaintiff, the Northern Ireland Office (the body responsible for operating prisons in Northern Ireland), that the defendant may not publish any unpixellated photograph of any serving prisoner who is or who has been assessed at its Belfest Prisoner Assessment Unit without giving the Office 48 hours notice, on the basis that such photographs would interfere with the Office’s statutory responsibility under Sections 2(1) and Section 41(1) of the Prison Act 1953 .
To read the judgment in full, please click on the pdf icon below.