Ferdinand v MGN Limited: QBD 29 Sep 2011

The claimant, a famous footballer, complained that an article by the defendant relating an affair he had had, had infringed his right to privacy. The defendant relied on its right to freedom of expression. The claimant had at an earlier stage, and at the time of the incidents related, led a wilder social life, but said that he had since settled down.
Held: The claim failed. The evidence of earlier behaviour was a matter of proper public interest, and the claimant himself in his own book had made much of it. That did not mean that he had abandoned all rights of privacy: ‘In the nature of things, the subject matter of the article is private information which is likely to have caused even a phlegmatic character some embarrassment and, as such, this supports the existence of a reasonable expectation of privacy.’
Nicol J continued: ‘the balancing competing rights between Article 8 and Article 10 called for an intense focus on the comparative importance of the two rights in the specific context of the particular case.’ In this particular case, the claimant had met up with the woman after the time when he was proclaiming himself a reformed character, and had managed a public relations effort to project an image consistent with his later standing as captain of the England football team. Such an appointment might itself require better standards of the appointee, and his appointment was as a direct result of the prior captain’s own failings. The balancing exercise in this particular case fell to the defendant’s benefit.

Nicol J
[2011] EWHC 2454 (QB)
European Convention on Human Rights 10 8
England and Wales
CitedA v B plc and Another (Flitcroft v MGN Ltd) CA 11-Mar-2002
A newspaper company appealed against an order preventing it naming a footballer who, they claimed, had been unfaithful to his wife.
Held: There remains a distinction between the right of privacy which attaches to sexual activities within and . .
CitedCampbell v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd (MGN) (No 1) HL 6-May-2004
The claimant appealed against the denial of her claim that the defendant had infringed her right to respect for her private life. She was a model who had proclaimed publicly that she did not take drugs, but the defendant had published a story . .
CitedVon Hannover v Germany ECHR 24-Jun-2004
Princess Caroline of Monaco who had, at some time, received considerable attention in the media throughout Europe, complained at the publication of photographs taken of her withour her permission.
Held: There was no doubt that the publication . .
CitedIn re S (a Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) HL 28-Oct-2004
Inherent High Court power may restrain Publicity
The claimant child’s mother was to be tried for the murder of his brother by poisoning with salt. It was feared that the publicity which would normally attend a trial, would be damaging to S, and an application was made for reporting restrictions to . .
CitedAsh and Another v McKennitt and others CA 14-Dec-2006
The claimant was a celebrated Canadian folk musician. The defendant, a former friend, published a story of their close friendship. The claimant said the relationship had been private, and publication infringed her privacy rights, and she obtained an . .
CitedHutcheson (Formerly Known As ‘KGM’) v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Others CA 19-Jul-2011
The claimant appealed against the refusal of a privacy order, protecting his identity in his claim.
Held: The appeal was refused. That Article 8 was ‘engaged’ was not conclusive of the question whether the claimant enjoyed a reasonable . .
CitedMosley v The United Kingdom ECHR 10-May-2011
The claimant complained of the reporting of a sexual encounter which he said was private.
Held: The reporting of ‘tawdry allegations about an individual’s private life’ does not attract the robust protection under Article 10 afforded to more . .
CitedKGM v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Others QBD 1-Dec-2010
The claimant had obtained an interim injunction to prevent the defendant newspapers from publishing stories about him, together with an order protecting his identity within the proceedings. The defendants now sought to have the injunctions set . .
CitedMurray v Big Pictures (UK) Ltd; Murray v Express Newspapers CA 7-May-2008
The claimant, a famous writer, complained on behalf of her infant son that he had been photographed in a public street with her, and that the photograph had later been published in a national newspaper. She appealed an order striking out her claim . .
CitedHandyside v The United Kingdom ECHR 7-Dec-1976
Freedom of Expression is Fundamental to Society
The appellant had published a ‘Little Red Schoolbook’. He was convicted under the 1959 and 1964 Acts on the basis that the book was obscene, it tending to deprave and corrupt its target audience, children. The book claimed that it was intended to . .
CitedRe Angela Roddy (a child) (identification: restriction on publication), Torbay Borough Council v News Group Newspapers FD 2-Dec-2003
A twelve year old girl had become pregnant. The Catholic Church was said to have paid her not to have an abortion. After the birth she and her baby were taken into care. The authority proposed the adoption of the baby. There was more publicity. . .
CitedTerry (previously LNS) v Persons Unknown QBD 29-Jan-2010
The claimant (then known as LNS) had obtained an injunction to restrain publication of private materials.
Held: There was insufficient material to found an action in confidence or privacy. An applicant was unlikely to succeed either at an . .
CitedMosley v News Group Newspapers Ltd QBD 24-Jul-2008
The defendant published a film showing the claimant involved in sex acts with prostitutes. It characterised them as ‘Nazi’ style. He was the son of a fascist leader, and a chairman of an international sporting body. He denied any nazi element, and . .
CitedLord Browne of Madingley v Associated Newspapers Ltd CA 3-Apr-2007
The appellant sought to restrict publication by the defendants in the Mail on Sunday of matters which he said were a breach of confidence. He had lied to a court in giving evidence, whilst at the same time being ready to trash the reputation of his . .
CitedGoodwin v NGN Ltd and VBN QBD 9-Jun-2011
The claimant had obtained an injunction preventing publication of his name and that of his coworker with whom he had had an affair. After widespread publication of his name elsewhere, the defendant had secured the discharge of the order as regards . .
CitedTheakston v MGN Ltd QBD 14-Feb-2002
The claimant, a celebrity sought to restrain publication by the defendant of information about his sex life, consisting of pictures of him in a brothel. The court considered the test for the grant of an injunction to restrain publication under the . .

Cited by:
CitedMcClaren v News Group Newspapers Ltd QBD 5-Sep-2012
The claimant had obtained an interim injunction to restrain the defendant publishing what he said was private information about a sexual encounter. He also sought an injunction under the 1997 Act.
Held: The claim succeeded: ‘there have been . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Litigation Practice, Human Rights

Updated: 12 January 2022; Ref: scu.444825