A v B [2002] 2 All ER 545


Interim injunction concerning extra-marital affair of footballer set aside

Facts

The claimant, A, was a professional footballer who sought an injunction against the defendant newspaper, B, from publishing details of his extra-marital affairs. A contended that publication would amount to a breach of confidentiality. An interim injunction was granted. The judge refused to set aside the interim injunction on the basis that the law of confidentiality should protect sexual relationships outside marriage equally as those within marriage.

Issue

B appealed against the interim injunction. B contended, inter alia, that A was not likely to establish at trial that details about the affairs were confidential and the judge had been wrong to hold that the law of confidence should protect details of transitory sexual relationships. B also argued that the judge had paid insufficient regard to the importance of freedom of expression and had adopted an incorrect approach to the construction of section 12(4) of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Held

The appeal was allowed. The Court provided general guidance regarding the relationship between interim injunctions and freedom of expression. Any interference with freedom of expression had to be justified irrespective of whether publication of information was within the public interest. The courts should not act as arbiters of taste and the protection of confidence depended upon the relationship between the parties at the time of the actual or threatened breach. The judge below had applied inappropriate protection to transient relationships and had failed to properly consider the right to freedom of expression of the two women with which A had been involved. The Court noted that a well-known premiership football players such as A inevitably attract public interest and are role models. The judge below had not properly considered this.

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