Invasion of privacy

A good starting point for comments on privacy cases and issues is the website of INFORRM (the International Forum for Responsible Media Blog)
INFORRM also publishes data on the number (and types) of cases in Media Law being heard by the courts in every legal year.

The decision of Mr Justice Eady in Lord Browne of Maddingley [BP Boss] v Associated Newspapers [The Mail on Sunday] [2007] EWHC 202 (QB) is a cracking read and is very useful on breach of confidence/privacy! Tony Blair is in there, the Beckhams, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelsson and his Brazilian lover 'Reinaldo' etc.

See also Court of Appeal decision in same case:

Complete Spiked back catalogue on privacy issues:

Are women unfairly treated by super-injunctions? – video clip

Who looks after our privacy?

Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)Note: in the wake of the 2012 Leveson Report the Press Complaints Commission (referred to in some items below) was disbanded and replaced in September 2014 with the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
An independent organisation monitoring British newspapers and magazines to ensure they adhere to ethical guidelines. The IPSO’s Editors’ Code  and the outcome of various rulings on complaints are available on the website.

Though the new Independent Press Standards Organisation has not been without criticism:

Roy Greenslade, ‘Press regulation déjà vu: 'new' Ipso and the old PCC resemble each other’ The Guardian, 4 November 2014

Sir Christopher Meyer, a former Press Complaints Commission chairman, on injunctions and privacy changes

One blogger wondered what the new body would look like: ‘Will the PCC become the Independent Press Standards Organisation?’

Still trying to work it all out, in June 2013 Lord Justice Leveson accepted an invitation to speak to the culture, media and sport select committee: ‘Leveson to appear before MPs to discuss press regulation’ – but it is unlikely this will happen before autumn 2013.

Oliver Lock, ‘Prince Harry and David Beckham: a close look at IPSO’s approach to privacy’


Set up as an ‘alternative’ press regulator by some of those dissatisfied with IPSO, IMPRESS also acts for the public in maintaining press standards, including about invasions of privacy:

The independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. The website includes sections on codes and guidelines, consultations etc.

Privacy International
A private, London-based human rights campaign group on privacy issues, particularly when invasion of privacy thought to be by governments or corporations

Privacy and Human Rights

‘What Human Rights Do for Privacy’

A fantastic infographic by RightsInfo - Everything you need to know about your human right to privacy, just one click away:

Privacy in the news

It is often the case that famous people and their privacy cases become ‘news’. Many news items on these cases include explanations of what happened in a particular case, links to background stories and related sites, including videos or podcasts, and sometimes links to the HM Courts Service so that you can then read the judgment of a that case in full. Other privacy-type issues often also hit the headlines. Here are a few high-profile examples from the BBC and newspaper archives to get you started, though it is well worth keeping your eye on the news in this area as new cases (as will be seen from all the recent additions in the textbook!) are coming up all the time:

Naomi Campbell wins privacy case (6 May 2004)

Mosley wins court case over orgy (24 July 2008)

Max Mosley raises the stakes over invasion of privacy (27 December 2008)

Max Mosley's battle for privacy (17 February 2009)

On the ongoing claims by Max Mosley (30 September 2011)

In Mosley v UK (App No.48009/08); [2011] ECHR 774, the European Court of Human Rights rejected Max Mosley’s claim that the UK government was obliged to introduce a duty of pre-notification where intimate or sexual details were to be released about an individual in the press (see section 16.6 in textbook). However, Mr Mosley continued to fight on (see for example In this podcast, Joshua Rosenberg analyses Mr Mosley’s privacy complaint.

You can watch the Chamber judgment here: (easiest to find by selecting ‘webcast by state’ and then ‘United Kingdom’.

‘Mosley v Google, RIP’

On Murray: Rowling wins court photo appeal (7 May 2008)

DNA database 'breach of rights' (4 December 2008)

Facebook 'withdraws' data changes (18 February 2009)

The Queen gets tough on paparazzi in royal privacy row (5 December 2009)

The Queen authorised a crackdown on the paparazzi amid her growing anger at intrusions into the private lives of members of the Royal family and their friends

Can celebrities expect privacy? (15 July 2011)

Mirror eludes Ferdinand offside trap, but it's no reprieve for 'kiss and tell' (30 September 2011)

The Sun publishes photos of naked Prince Harry (24 August 2102) – despite being warned not to do so by the Palace’s lawyers and the PCC:

Video clip of publicist Max Clifford saying the publication of photographs of Prince Harry in Las Vegas was clearly an invasion of privacy

William and Kate win French injunction over topless photos (18 September 2012)

'Bulger killers' images': Two receive suspended sentences

The BBC reported on 26 April 2013 that two men who – in contempt of court – published photographs on Twitter and Facebook said to show the killers of James Bulger (Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, whose privacy is protected by an injunction contra mumdum (see section 16.4 of textbook) have received suspended jail sentences:

Public has right to know Boris Johnson fathered child during affair, court rules (21 May 2013)

Paul Weller children win privacy damages over photos on Mail Online

This was upheld by the Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal upholds privacy claim by family of Paul Weller (searchable)

Following on from Paul Weller’s children’s case, his wife is campaigning for a child privacy law:

Wife of Paul Weller calls for child press protection

Hannah Weller: I’m fighting to protect everyone’s children

Video news report on Rio Ferdinand failed privacy claim – including interview with Sunday Mirror

Video news report on Campbell decision, with claims from Piers Morgan that the judgment created a 'back door privacy law' and comment from Campbell's lawyer

BBC Interactive forum (web clip) on the Douglas/Zeta Jones case (at High Court), featuring questions from the public posed to barrister Iain Christie, author of the Law of Privacy and the Media.

Hugh Grant on super-injunctions and 'privacy theft' (16 May 2011) – video clip

How Pokémon Go could challenge and change our privacy laws (20 July 2016)

Beyond the news

Not only are these stories ‘news’, but they are often the subject of editorials, comment pieces, and debate. We have placed a selection to get you talking – another great source is the Inforrm blog (which also covers defamation).

On the Royal Family

‘Royal privacy: 2-1 to the Windsors (with one own goal for Harry)’
The Queen is entitled to protection when she's saying humdrum things – but the same doesn't apply to Prince Charlie's commercial interests, argues Michael White (16 September 2012)

‘Yes, the Royal Family deserves privacy, but so does the ‘problem family’’, says Brendan O’Neill (17 September 2012)

On Boris Johnson:

‘Boris Johnson: The flawed Mayor of London’: His indiscretions are finally catching up with him, writes his biographer Sonia Purnell (21 May 2013)

Case Comment: AAA v Associated Newspapers Ltd – “Mother knows best…” by Kirsten Sjøvoll for the Inforrm blog (2 July 2013):

On Max Mosley


The High Court in London awarded the boss of Formula One motor racing, Max Mosley, £60,000 in damages following the publication of lurid stories about him in a British Sunday newspaper (now obsolete), the News of the World. Mr Justice Eady ruled that the newspaper had violated Mosley’s right to privacy when reporting on a sado-masochistic sex session and rejected the newspaper’s defence that Mosley’s conduct was a matter of public interest. In this debate published in the online journal ‘Sp!ked’ soon after the judgment, two regular writers debated the merits of the ruling. First, barrister Barbara Hewson applauded the judgment, arguing that we have a right to a private life which should be protected in law:

Mosley’s racy sex life is none of our business, The outcome of Mosley v News of the World is a well-deserved victory for personal freedom and privacy.

In response, journalist Tessa Mayes argued that the Mosley case represented the latest in a series of attacks on press freedom:

Cracking the whip against free speech, The Mosley case shows we must defend free expression for everyone - even titillating tabloid newspapers.

On privacy cases in general

In late 2008, Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers (including the Daily Mail) and chair of the Press Complaints Commission’s editors’ code committee, who argues frequently in defence of free speech, spoke out at the Society of Editors Conference against some of the rulings being made in privacy cases. Read his speech and also some news articles and comments written in response to it, below:

Society of Editors: Paul Dacre's speech in full

Daily Mail chief Paul Dacre criticises BBC growth and privacy rulings, The Guardian (10 November 2008)

The regulator, the lawyer and the editor, The Guardian (11 November 2008)

After that divorce, what now for privacy?, Tessa Mayes (25 March 2008)

We need privacy and a free press, Tessa Mayes (25 November 2008)

Lachlan Urquhart, 'Privacy and Freedom of the Press from 2004-2015: From Campbell to Leveson'
This chapter documents the developments in the English law of breach of confidence since the seminal Campbell v MGN case in 2004. In particular, it documents the growth of the new action of ‘misuse of private information’.

Hugh Tomlinson QC ,‘Will the tort of misuse of private information disappear if the Human Rights Act is repealed?’

On phone-hacking

There was an enormous amount of press coverage following the ‘phone hacking scandal’ perpetrated by the (now obsolete) News of the World (and others). Here are just a few websites to get you started:

Hacked off – a campaign for a good public inquiry into phone hacking

See also this publication by Hacked Off from September 2016 – ‘No More Excuses’

Guardian Law pages on the phone-hacking saga

House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee

The other hacking scandal: Suppressed report reveals that law firms, telecoms giants and insurance companies routinely hire criminals to steal rivals' information
The Independent newspaper’s genuine ‘scoop’ in relation to exactly who was involved in phone hacking, over and above the press (22 June 2013):

In November 2016, Mirror Group Newspapers was reported to have paid out £500,000 to settle phone-hacking and other misuse of private information claims brought to 29 people including the entertainer Les Dennis, presenter Natasha Kaplinsky and EastEnders actor Steve McFadden. Many of the claimants were friends or family of the famous people targeted by journalists:

The judgment handed down by Mr Justice Mann on 21 May 2015 in the Mirror Group quantum cases, Gulati and others v MGN ([2015] EWHC 1482 (Ch)), was said to represent a turning point in the phone hacking litigation. See:

Supreme Court refuses permission to appeal in Mirror phone hacking damages case

On the Leveson Inquiry and aftermath:

The most high-profile development in the law relating to privacy, generated by the discovery of illegal phone hacking by the press, was the Leveson inquiry. The findings of Lord Justice Leveson were published in November 2012 (see section 16.3 of book). Though not primarily concerned with civil remedies the revelations emerging from the inquiry in respect of press ethics have certainly generated a lot of opinion, both in the newspapers and in blog sites. Some examples are below. Many others can be found via a quick Internet search!

Leveson’s vision of a regulated press

The Leveson Report – Women and the Press

Leveson: Press proposes its own ‘Royal Charter’

On 25 April 2013 (the same day as the Defamation Act was passed – coincidence?), some newspaper groups representing the national newspapers (not including the Guardian or the Independent) proposed their own ‘Royal Charter’ for the ‘Independent Self-Regulation of the Press’ [see pdf here]. News International - one of the groups behind the proposal – said that it ‘will deliver a tough new regulator for the press that will be independent of judges and politicians’. See comment on the proposal at the Inforrm blog.

In June 2013 Lord Justice Leveson accepted an invitation to speak to the culture, media and sport select committee: ‘Leveson to appear before MPs to discuss press regulation’ – but it is unlikely this will happen before autumn 2013

Searchable database of the Leveson Inquiry Transcripts:

See one opinion piece on this on the Huffington Post blog (24 June 2013): ‘Why Did Leveson, Politicians and Police Bury the Real Scandal of the 'Other Hacking' Report?’ at and another on Inforrm’s blog (2 July 2013): ‘Hackgate – Project Riverside and The SOCA Report’ at

On super injunctions

There has also been a lot of coverage and critique of the use of so-called super injunctions. Again, here are just a few articles to get you started

BBC News – Q&A: Super-injunctions

Are celebrities gagging the media more than ever? (20 April 2011)

Hugh Grant on super-injunctions and 'privacy theft' (16 May 2011) – video clip

Are women unfairly treated by super-injunctions? – video clip

Guardian Law Pages on Super-injunctions

A privacy injunction was granted against the Sun by the High Court on 14 May 2016 by Warby J in the case of DMK v NGN ([2016] EWHC 1646 (QB)).  This prevented the identification of the defendant in proceedings in the Chancery Division and the publication of information relating to those proceedings.

Essay: Sir Stephen Sedley on Superinjunctions in the London Review of Books

‘Publication of hacked David Beckham emails renders injunction worthless’ (January 2017)

On the PJS ‘celebrity threesome’ super-injunction (from 2016)

A selection from among the many, many comment pieces written on the PJS case (at both CA and SC level):

PJS v News Group Newspapers. On Monday 18 April 2016, the Court of Appeal (Jackson, King and Simon LJJ) decided that the injunction should be discharged ([2016] EWCA Civ 393). Inforrm had a post about the Court of Appeal decision and there was also a case comment on the 5RB website and a discussion of the case on the Collyer Bristow website by Kate MacMillan.

In an anonymised judgment dated 22nd January - but only later published - the Court of Appeal underscored the importance of the right to privacy in the context of sexual activity.

This celebrity injunction will probably rebound – a case of the ‘Streisand effect’

Celebrity threesomes and the futility of A-lister injunctions in England

Case Comment and Preview: PJS v NGN, The last rites of the privacy injunction? In the Supreme Court on Thursday – Sara Mansoori and Aidan Wills

Case Comment: PJS v NGN, Supreme Court restores interim injunction in landmark privacy case

PJS v News Group Newspapers.   We had a summary of the decision and posts by Ashley Hurst and Gavin Phillipson.  We also had a round up of the media news stories about the decision.

Celebrity injunction: why the law is not an ass when it comes to privacy – Gavin Phillipson

Supreme Court Upholds Injunction In Celebrity Threesome Case

Tommy Chen, ‘PJS and the tort of misuse of private information’

New tort: misuse of personal/private information

That there is such a ‘new’ tort was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in March 2015: Vidal-Hall v Google [2015] EWCA Civ 311

Lorna Skinner, ‘Case Law: Vidal-Hall v Google, Distress damages can be awarded under s 13 DPA without pecuniary loss (and misuse of private information is a tort)’ INFORRM 31 March 2015

Rosalind English, ‘Google’s misuse of private browsing data entitles individuals to damages’ UK Human Rights Blog 31 March 2015


Privacy Issues in New Zealand: Sex with the Office Lights on – Nicole Moreham, INFORRM 13 February 2015


Tolley v JS Fry & Sons Ltd [1931]

Peck v The United Kingdom (1993)

Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004]

Von Hannover v Germany (2004)

Douglas & Ors v Hello Ltd. & Ors [2005]

McKennitt & Ors v Ash & Anor [2006]

Murray v Big Pictures (UK) Ltd [2008]

Mosley v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2008]

Mosley v. the United Kingdom (Application no. 48009/08)

The Author of A Blog v Times Newspapers Ltd [2009]

LNS/ John Terry v Persons Unknown [2010]

Ntuli v Donald [2010]

Re Guardian News and Media Ltd [2010]

JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd (Rev 1) [2011]

Ferdinand v MGN Ltd (Rev 2) [2011]

Hutcheson (Formerly Known As ‘KGM’) v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Others [2011]

Giggs (formerly known as CTB) v NGN Ltd & Another [2012]

Trimingham v Associated Newspapers Limited [2012]

Rocknroll v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013]

AAA v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2013]

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