Short term injunction granted to prevent the publication of information surrounding sportsman’s affair

The facts

A famous sportsman, A, who has in the past held positions of responsibility in his sporting field, has been successful in his application for an interim injunction preventing material which gave information about his affair with B being published. The respondent, News Group Newspapers (NGN) produced an article which claimed to ‘set the record straight’ regarding the affair, which occurred prior to A’s marriage with C, but during their relationship.

The decision

It was held that the A had a reasonable expectation of privacy under article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The judge considered NGN’s submission that B was renowned for her openness about her personal life, but this was regarded as largely irrelevant for the purposes of the application. The secrecy in which the affair was conducted between A and B suggested that it differed from B’s other more public encounters, and was not to be treated as part of her public life.

NGN argued that A had a duty to act as a role model, with particular reference to advertisements which portrayed him as a family man. It was further claimed that A’s affair had breached the rules governing his sport, as he met with B when he should have been at sporting events.

It was held that although A had a duty to act as a role model, this could not impute on him a duty to uphold a specific set of standards. Whilst the affair negatively affected B and C, the judge found no public interest in exposing the details. Finally, it was considered that A’s behaviour was not so fundamentally inconsistent with being a role model that there was a public interest in exposing it.