Thursday 29 September 2016

Some might say very little about Liam Gallagher-Nicole Appleton court tussle

Published 28/09/2015 | 12:10

Liam Gallagher has apologised for sending a homophobic tweet
Liam Gallagher has apologised for sending a homophobic tweet

A High Court judge has placed limits on what detail the public can be given about a divorce money fight involving rock star Liam Gallagher and his ex-wife Nicole Appleton.

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Mr Justice Mostyn had last week analysed legal issues surrounding reporting of the case, and similar cases, at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Another, lower-ranking, judge had earlier this month examined evidence in the dispute between Gallagher and Appleton over several days at a private hearing in the Central Family Court in London.

Judge Martin O'Dwyer is expected to deliver a ruling on the case - which might be made public - later in the year.

Mr Justice Mostyn had earlier made an order saying little detail of the case could be reported until he had analysed issues around reporting and made a ruling.

He had said Gallagher and Appleton could be named and the public could be told that they were fighting over money in the wake of their divorce.

And Mr Justice Mostyn today said he had decided to limit what could be revealed.

The judge said Gallagher and Appleton had been forced to provide financial information - on the basis that it would remain private.

He said most financial information aired at the private hearing before Judge O'Dwyer would have been "compulsorily extracted" and should stay private.

Gallagher, 43, who was a member of the band Oasis, and Appleton, 40, a singer with the group All Saints, had both attended the hearing before Judge O'Dwyer - and were photographed arriving at court.

Another judge had drawn the couple's six-year marriage to a close more than a year ago.

District Judge Anne Aitken granted the couple a decree nisi at a family court hearing in London in April 2014.

Mr Justice Mostyn today said his order would not bar the media from reporting "evidence or submissions" given during the hearing before Judge O'Dwyer which did not have a "financial dimension".

The judge said journalists could report that Gallagher had given evidence relating to a clothing company called Pretty Green - which is named after a song by The Jam and in which he has an interest - and report that he had given evidence about a house he owned in north London.

And the judge said it could be reported that Gallagher had been asked questions relating to Oasis.

But he said the "details" of any "testimony" could not be revealed.

News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun, had argued that some information could be reported without damaging the financial interests of Gallagher and Appleton.

Barrister Jacob Dean had outlined information News Group editors thought could be reported - and Mr Justice Mostyn said he had made a "clever argument".

Barrister Patrick Chamberlayne QC had represented the interests of Gallagher and Appleton and had disagreed with much of what Mr Dean said.

Mr Justice Mostyn analysed different pieces of information aired at the hearing in front of Judge O'Dwyer before deciding what could be reported.

"If the parties are well-known it seems to me that the press must be able to identify them and the fact that they are engaged in ancillary relief proceedings," said Mr Justice Mostyn today in a written ruling on reporting.

"The name of the case will be publicly published in the cause list and the parties will be seen by the public arriving and leaving court. The fact of the divorce and of the impending ancillary relief may well have been the subject of press reports. That has happened in this case. Thus, it would be absurd to ban publication by the press of those facts."

But he added: "This is not a case where the parties have manipulatively invoked the press to fight their causes. Nor is it a case where there have been previous proceedings in open court where a lot of financial material has been aired.

"Most of the financial information will have been compulsorily extracted and is subject to the implied undertaking, which is the bedrock of the right to privacy, and which, as I have explained, collaterally binds the observing journalists, and where I find no good reason to release them from its effect."

He said he had balanced privacy and "freedom of expression" arguments.

Mr Justice Mostyn said he was only deciding what could be reported about the hearing.

He said the publication of any judgment on the dispute would be a matter for Judge O'Dwyer.

"I place in the privacy side of the scales the fact that the implied undertaking certainly operates between the parties," said Mr Justice Mostyn.

"I place there the fact that neither party has sought to yoke the press to his or her cause. Neither has spoken about this divorce. Press comments thus far have been limited. It is not a case where there has been extensive inaccurate speculation.

"On the freedom of expression side of the scales is the fact that some of the comments have been factually and legally incorrect. That may militate in favour of publication of a full judgment but does not really explain why the proceedings should be reported."

Mr Justice Mostyn said Gallagher had four children - including a child by Appleton.

The judge said the children's names could be found on the internet but said it would be "contrary to their interests" for them to be named in the context of the case.

An Oasis song, Some Might Say, written by Gallagher's brother Noel in the 1990s, tackles the question of what people may say about things and includes the lines:

"Some might say that we should never ponder.

"On our thoughts today cos they will sway over time."

Mr Justice Mostyn said the issue of what could be reported had initially been raised before Judge O'Dwyer.

He said Judge O'Dwyer had "wondered" whether only a High Court judge could make a reporting restriction order in the case - and lawyers had then raised the issue before him.

Press Association

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