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Right to Privacy -v- Public Interest

July 8th, 2017 by Mary Saws

So another footballer is in the news for bringing legal action against a newspaper for breach of his privacy.

Unlike the recent spate of cases, this time he’s not asking for an injunction (super or otherwise) but for damages for breach of privacy.

My previous blog posts explain what the super injunctions were all about so I will not repeat it here.

In this case, it seems Rio Ferdinand was not given enough notice that the story was going to be published to allow him to get an injunction so his recourse is for damages – that is if it can be shown that the newspaper’s defence of public interest does not outweigh his right to privacy.

There is no doubt his privacy has been breached.  A relationship with a teenhood girlfriend which lasted into adulthood but petered out to a few texts/email and then no contact at all appears to have been “sexed up” to make it seem like it was a current fling.

According to The Guardian, they had not met in person for six years


and according to the BBC the last contact they did have was by text in February 2010 when Rio had just taken over as Englandcaptain from John Terry due to troubles in his personal life http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14033651.

It would seem that the woman in question, Carly Storey, approached the publicist Max Clifford shortly after the last text exchange between them and he arranged for her to sell her story to the Mirror Group Newpapers for £16,000.

I didn’t read the original story and can’t find a copy on the net now, presumably because it has been pulled in light of the legal action.  However, if they have not met in person for six years (which is about the time he decided to settle down with his now wife because she was expecting their first child), and relations between Rio and Carly Storey had been cooling for some time prior, it is hard to see how this is a story which could be in the public interest.

It would seem to me to be a case of someone jumping on the band wagon to make a few bucks and the newspaper was chancing its arm.

I agree withRio– there has to be a line for everyone between what is private and what the public have the right to know.  Just because the public may be interested in the private life of people does not necessarily make it in the public interest under the law.

The Court is the impartial arbiter on these issues and we should know later this week whether a “kiss and tell” from an old flame is a proper thing for a newspaper to be publishing.

Personally I hope not, otherwise imagine all those skeletons which could be popping up all over the place – we all have them, I am sure.

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