Sportsman wins new gagging order over affair
Published 31/01/2011 | 12:22
A well-known sportsman has won an appeal to prevent his identity being revealed in connection with an alleged affair because he had already been exposed as having a previous affair outside his long-term relationship.
The personality, who is a household name, applied for an injunction after learning that a newspaper was about to publish details of the second alleged affair.
The injunction was overturned but the sportsman, known as JIH, appealed and the Court of Appeal today ruled that he should not be identified.
In his judgement, Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, said that the "crucial factor" was that a story involving a similar allegation had previously been published.
"If we permitted JIH's identity to be revealed without permitting the nature of the information of which he is seeking to restrain be published, then it would nonetheless be relatively easy for the media and members of the public to deduce the nature of that information: it would be a classic, if not very difficult, jigsaw exercise."
The ruling is likely to provoke controversy as it suggests that well-known personalities who have a perceived history of such behaviour should be granted protection by the courts and that their right to prviacy exceeds the public interest argument.
Lord Neuberger said the sportsman had been in a "long-term and conventional relationship" with another person, referred to as XX.
"Since his relationship with XX had started, but before August 2010, a story had been published, without JIH having received any prior notice, suggesting that he had a sexual liaison with another person, who I shall call YY," he said.
"The story whose publication JIH is seeking to prevent concerns an alleged sexual encounter he had with a different person, to whom I shall refer as ZZ, last year."
The sportsman won an interim injunction against News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun.
News Group then entered into negotiations with JIH and drew up a draft order in which it agreed not to publish the allegations or his identity.
But Mr Justice Tugendhat refused to make the order, believing that the reporting restrictions "went too far".
He overturned the injunction last November but granted the sportsman leave to appeal.
Lord Neuberger, who sat alongside Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lady Justice Smith, granted the appeal but ruled that "limited" facts about the case could be published.
He said: "It is true that the very fact that this decision means that we are revealing that JIH is a person about whose alleged sexual activity a previous story has been published, and this will immediately narrow the field for those seeking to identify him, but in my view, that point if of limited force: there have been quite a few stories of this nature relating to well known people published in the printed and electronic media in the past two or three years."