First privacy injunction against the media since January 2013

Iona Millership

In AMM v News Group Newspapers, the High Court has granted a privacy injunction to restrain the Sun on Sunday publishing information about a sexual relationship that the applicant, an individual, had in 2011. The Sun on Sunday had undertaken to the applicant not to publish the information within seven days but refused to give such an undertaking to the court.

Mr Justice Stewart was satisfied that the test in section 12(3) of the Human Rights Act 1998 was satisfied and that the applicant was “likely to establish [at trial] that publication should not be allowed”. The judge weighed the applicant’s right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights against the Sun on Sunday’s right to freedom of expression under Article 10 and found the balance in favour of the applicant, noting that the information “clearly engaged the Article 8 rights of the applicant and the family of the applicant” and that “no substantive reason had been given [by the Sun on Sunday] justifying publication as being in the public interest”.

Stewart J considered whether the injunction was necessary at all given the undertaking by the Sun on Sunday not to publish the information within seven days. He considered that it was in circumstances where there was no agreement from the Sun on Sunday as to anonymity for the applicant.

The judge also ruled that the proceedings should be held in private and anonymised to protect the privacy interests and identification of the applicant.

The Sun on Sunday was unrepresented at the hearing. Section 12(2) of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the court not to grant relief against an unrepresented respondent unless it is satisfied: “(a) that the applicant has taken all practicable steps to notify the respondent; or (b) that there are compelling reasons why the respondent should not be notified”. The court was satisfied as to (a) as the applicant had notified the Sun on Sunday that it was going to seek an injunction and had served it with evidence, a draft application, a draft order and a skeleton argument. The Sun on Sunday had indicated to the applicant that it did not intend to appear at the hearing.

AMM v News Group Newspapers [2014] EWHC 4063 (QB)

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