England captain Terry had affair with wife of former team-mate
Published 30/01/2010 | 05:00
Footballer John Terry can be named as the sportsman behind a gagging injunction involving his private life.
The ruling came yesterday after a judge overturned a privacy injunction obtained by the England captain.
Terry is expected to captain England in the World Cup and last year was named as 'Dad of the Year' in a public survey.
But yesterday Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled there were no grounds for a gagging order which prevented the disclosure that the Stg£150,000-a-week (€173,000) Chelsea footballer had an affair with a former team-mate's girlfriend.
The so-called 'super injunction' had been granted last week after Terry's legal team used human rights laws to argue that the public had no right to know about his extra-marital relationship with the ex-partner of fellow England defender Wayne Bridge.
Until yesterday's landmark reversal, the injunction had been heavily criticised as the latest example of the courts bringing in a privacy law by the back door.
A succession of wealthy and powerful figures have used the UK's Human Rights Act to prevent negative publicity about themselves being published, on the basis that it breached their right to privacy.
In some cases, they have obtained 'super injunctions' which even prevent the media from reporting the very existence of any injunction.
But Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled that freedom of speech outweighed Terry's right to suppress reporting of his affair, which will throw his England captaincy into doubt and could affect his lucrative sponsorship deals with Samsung, Umbro and Nationwide.
The High Court judge said that Terry's motivation in trying to block publication was not "personal distress" but the impact of adverse publicity on his earning power.
Lawyers and MPs have become increasingly concerned about the ability of wealthy litigants to "hide behind a cloak of anonymity", as one judge said earlier this week.
The problem of 'super injunctions' was highlighted last year when the oil trading company Trafigura used the courts to gag reporting relating to their disposal of toxic waste, then tried to prevent newspapers even disclosing that the matter had been discussed in parliament.
Paul Farrelly MP, a member of the parliamentary committee on culture, media and sport and a leading campaigner for openness in the courts, said he believed the ruling would go a long way to ending the era of the 'super injunction'.
He said: "Following the outcry over the Trafigura scandal, we are operating in different times. There was a creeping culture of secrecy in the courts and I hope that has now firmly hit the buffers with this ruling."
Terry (29), who earns more than £10m (€11.5m) a year through wages and sponsorship deals, obtained an interim injunction last week. He had learned that a newspaper was intending to run a story about his affair with Vanessa Perroncel, a French-born lingerie model who was until December the long-term girlfriend of former Chelsea colleague Wayne Bridge. She is also the mother of Bridge's three-year-old son.
Terry, a father of two who was voted 'Dad of the Year' last year in a public poll, married his wife Toni in 2007.