The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
In a recent privacy claim involving a ‘kiss and tell’ publication, the Claimant was a former lottery winner. He and his then wife won £41 million on the ‘Euromillions’ Lottery in 2012 and their win was surrounded by extensive publicity. In 2016 the Claimant started a sexual relationship with the Defendant whom he met in Tenerife. Their relationship broke down the following year and she wrote and published a book about their relationship entitled “Google Me No Lies”.
The Claimant alleged that the book contained private information about him and his family including details of his sexual relationship with the Defendant, his relationship with and divorce from his former wife, his children and his health. The book also included four photographs taken by the Claimant and sent to the Defendant privately by Facebook Messenger during their relationship.
The Claimant claimed against the Defendant for misuse of private information and breach of copyright, seeking damages and a permanent injunction to restrain publication of the book and the photographs.
Claim for misuse of private information
Mr Justice Knowles found that the Claimant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to all four categories of information. Sexual behaviour is an aspect of private life and is heavily protected by Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life). Whether or not the information is true or false it contained deeply personal and intimate information concerning the Claimant’s sex life with the Defendant. Further, details of a family’s lifestyle within a household and, in particular, the circumstances of a child’s upbringing carry a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Judge found that a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities placed in the same position as the Claimant would expect that the information would remain private. The Claimant had confided intimate details to someone he was in an intimate relationship with and on terms which indicated he was speaking to her confidentially. The last thing that he would expect is that it would be published to the world.
The Defendant argued that the Claimant had consented to the publication of the information because he took no previous steps to prevent the book being published. Mr Justice Knowles found that the Claimant did not know what the Defendant was going to publish and did not give blanket consent to the publication of any of his private information.
The Judge also found that the information was not in the public domain and had not lost its private character.
In balancing the Claimant’s Article 8 right to a private life against the Defendant’s Article 10 right to freedom of expression, the Judge attached great weight to the harmful impact on the Claimant’s children of the revelations about their father’s sex life.
Mr Justice Knowles found that there was no legally recognisable public interest in the Defendant writing about her sexual relationship with the Claimant. He referred to the well-established principle that ‘kiss and tell’ stories that do no more than satisfy readers’ curiosity about the private lives of other persons, however well known to the public, do not serve any legally recognised public interest. The Judge rejected on the facts the Defendant’s argument that there was a public interest because she had a need to ‘set the record’ straight about what happened between her and the Claimant and to rebut derogatory allegations made about her. He concluded that the publication of the information represented a serious infringement of the Claimant’s Article 8 rights and those of his ex-wife and children, such as to outweigh the Defendant’s right to publish under Article 10.
Mr Justice Knowles granted a permanent injunction to restrain publication of the information. The Claimant was awarded £10,000 for misuse of his private information, considering the distress caused to him and his family, the highly personal nature of the information but also the limited publication of the information. He also received aggravated damages of £2500 because the Defendant had breached an interim non-disclosure order.
Claim for breach of copyright
The Claimant argued that the photographs were sent as part of private conversations with the Defendant and that he did not ever give her permission to use or publish them. The Defendant argued that the Claimant gifted her the photographs without any restriction on their use. Mr Justice Knowles found that the photographs were taken by the Claimant and sent to the defendant in circumstances which did not amount to a grant of permission to publish them to the world. Therefore, the claim for copyright infringement also succeeded, and damages of £50 awarded.
Laura Baglow is head of NetRights, the Social Media, Internet and Media Law department of Parnalls Solicitors. For legal advice and assistance about unauthorised publication of your private information or images please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01566 772375. Find out more about NetRights here.
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.