UK Supreme Court upholds press ban in celebrity threesome case | world | Hindustan Times
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UK Supreme Court upholds press ban in celebrity threesome case

world Updated: May 19, 2016 17:07 IST
press ban

The ruling will anger London-based tabloid newspapers which had argued the injunction was absurd when the details were easily available on the internet.


Britain’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an injunction preventing the English press from naming a celebrity who was involved in a much publicised extra-marital threesome.

The ruling means media in England and Wales remain banned from naming the people involved, even though their names have been widely reported on the internet since a US magazine published the full story on April 6.

In a four-to-one majority ruling, the Supreme Court held that the story was not in the public interest and publication of the names would be a serious breach of privacy.

The court said that even though the story was easily accessible on the internet and social media, for it to be splashed all over the English papers would lead to “potentially more enduring invasions” of privacy.

The ruling will anger London-based tabloid newspapers which had argued the injunction was absurd when the details were easily available on the internet.

The case has stirred a wider debate in Britain about whether injunctions, court orders banning publication of private information, serve any purpose in the internet age.

The person at the heart of the story is in the entertainment industry and married to a person in the same business. The couple have two children, who would also be at risk of an invasion of their privacy, the court said.

The couple testified to the lower court that originally granted the injunction that theirs was an open relationship in which extra-marital flings were acceptable and did not call into question their commitment to each other and their children.

The Sun on Sunday, the tabloid newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch which bought the story from the other participants in the threesome, argued it was in the public interest because it exposed the couple’s public image of marital commitment as hypocritical.

“There is no public interest (however much it may be of interest to some members of the public) in publishing kiss-and-tell stories or criticisms of private sexual conduct, simply because the persons involved are well-known,” said Supreme Court judge Lord Mance, reading a summary of the ruling.

“The courts exist to protect legal rights, even when their protection is difficult or unpopular in some quarters,” wrote Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger.

“If parliament takes the view that the courts have not adapted the law to fit current realities, then, of course, it can change the law.”

The injunction was issued by a lower court on January 22. After the U.S. magazine article in April, The Sun on Sunday went back to court arguing the injunction no longer made sense.

Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling means the interim injunction will remain in place until a full trial to decide whether it should become permanent or be lifted.