Serial rapist fails to win gag order on newspapers
Published 19/06/2010 | 05:00
THE High Court has refused serial rapist Michael Murray's application for an injunction preventing a number of newspapers from publishing his address and pictures of him pending an action for alleged breach of his privacy.
Murray (50), who was released from prison last year after serving 13 years for raping four women over a six-day period in 1995, claimed he has not been able to have a permanent home since his release because the papers keep publishing his address and pictures of him.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine said newspaper articles containing details of his known whereabouts "contribute significantly" to the debate and the interest of the public in being able to identify people convicted of violent offences.
"Such knowledge may allow members of the public to adjust their behaviour in whatever manner they feel might best protect them from any risk to which they may legitimately feel exposed," she said.
She was giving judgment in Murray's injunction application to prevent further publication of photos and his address pending the outcome of his claim for damages against five newspapers alleging his privacy and right to life had been interfered with by the publication of stories and photographs.
The proceedings arose out of publicity in the 'Evening Herald', the 'Daily Star', the 'Star on Sunday', the 'News of the World' and the 'Sun'.
The judge said the injunction application had not demonstrated the "necessary evidence" that there was a real risk to his life or that he was likely to succeed in further prohibiting the publication of information about him by the newspapers.
In light of the urgency of the case, she understood an early hearing date could be provided for the full action sometime in October and she adjourned the matter to next Wednesday to allow counsel for both sides to consider this.
Murray had not established that his rights outweighed those of the newspapers to freedom of expression and the the rights of the public to discuss the issue of the release of sex offenders, the judge said.
He had not suggested, to date, any actual threat had been made to his life, she added.
While he said he did not feel safe living at a number of addresses over the past nine months because details of those locations had been published, he had failed to explain why this was so, the judge said.
While the judge accepted that he enjoyed a constitutional and European Convention right to privacy, and he may later succeed in proving there had been interference, she was not satisfied that he had demonstrated a convincing case that his privacy had been unjustifiably intruded upon such as to justify curtailing the newspapers' right to freedom of expression.
There was a public interest in a debate which contended there should be publication of information on sex offenders released from prison, she said.
Murray had failed to provide documentary evidence about his efforts at rehabilitation while in prison and the court was also not furnished with any evidence to show he had engaged with the probation service since his release, or any medical evidence to suggest he was unlikely to pose a risk to the community, the judge said.