New blow for kiss and tell?

McKennitt v Ash: Court of Appeal hands down judgment in major privacy case

A legal case brought by a Canadian singer against a former friend and employee is likely to threaten the future of kiss ‘n’ tell stories after the Court of Appeal recognised enhanced rights of privacy following the von Hannover decision of the European Court of Human Rights.


Last year, singer/songwriter Loreena McKennitt was awarded £5,000 in damages and an injunction following revelations about her in a book written by Niema Ash called Travels with Loreena McKennitt: My Life as a Friend…

Certain passages in the book revealed details of Ms McKennitt’s personal and sexual relationships, her personal feelings about her fiancé who drowned in 1998, health and diet, her emotional vulnerability and details of a property dispute.

Dismissing Ms Ash’s appeal, the Court said Ms McKennitt was a star who guarded her personal privacy very carefully. The court ruled that an individual’s right to protect his/her private life outweighs another’s freedom to tell their story, unless there is a sufficient public interest. The Court said that in holding the balance between the content of privacy rights and those of freedom of expression, the English Court now had to look to the von Hannover case.

Media organisations had sought to intervene in the case and were permitted to put in written submissions to the Court.


Commenting on the implications of the decision, Caroline Kean, a media lawyer with Wiggin LLP, said:

“This means that ‘kiss and tell’ stories are no longer fair game; it is potentially damaging to all the tabloids and red tops. Any celebrity can possibly get an injunction and any publisher, not just books but newspapers and magazines, will in principle be affected – unless there is a real public interest like in the Profumo affair.”

Click here for the 5RB case report and full judgment.


5RB‘s Desmond Browne QC and David Sherborne (instructed by Carter-Ruck) appeared for Ms McKennitt.