McKennitt and others v Ash and Another: QBD 21 Dec 2005

The claimant sought to restrain publication by the defendant of a book recounting very personal events in her life. She claimed privacy and a right of confidence. The defendant argued that there was a public interest in the disclosures.
Held: Documents showed a readiness in the defendant to seek to manipulate the claimant through threats of publicising matters which she knew would cause the claimant acute embarrassment. The publication could not claim any purpose of public interest disclosure. Certain details published were very intrusive and private, and the claimant was entitled to an injunction to restrain publication of certain parts of the book, and a low level of damages: ‘for a claimant’s conduct to ‘trigger the public interest defence’ a very high degree of misbehaviour must be demonstrated. Relatively trivial matters, even though falling short of the highest standards people might set for themselves, will not suffice.’
Eady J said: ‘To describe a person’s home, the decor, the layout, the state of cleanliness, or how the occupiers behave inside it, is generally regarded as unacceptable. To convey such details, without permission, to the general public, is almost as objectionable as spying into the home with a long distance lens and publishing the resulting photographs.’
and: ‘ . . in broad terms, . . if a person wishes to reveal publicly information about aspects of his or her relations with other people, which would attract the prima facie protection of privacy rights, any such revelation should be crafted, so far as possible, to protect the other person’s privacy . . . It does not follow, because one can reveal one’s own private life, that one can also expose confidential matters in respect of which others are entitled to protection if their consent is not forthcoming’.


Eady J


[2006] EMLR 10, [2005] EWHC 3003 (QB)




England and Wales


CitedLeary v Britiah Broadcasting Corporatin CA 29-Sep-1989
Lord Donaldson MR considered an application for an injunction to prevent a publication which it was said would create a contempt of court, and said: ‘I am very concerned that no one should think that on a speculative basis you can go to the courts . .
CitedDouglas, Zeta Jones, Northern and Shell Plc v Hello! Limited (No 1) CA 21-Dec-2000
The first two claimants sold exclusive rights to photograph their wedding to the third claimant. A paparrazzi infiltrated the wedding and then sold his unauthorised photographs to the defendants, who now appealed injunctions restraining them from . .
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 . .
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 . .
CitedPG and JH v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Sep-2001
The use of covert listening devices within a police station was an infringement of the right to privacy, since there was no system of law regulating such practices. That need not affect the right to a fair trial. The prosecution had a duty to . .
CitedPeck v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Jan-2003
The claimant had been filmed by CCTV. He had, after attempting suicide, left home with a knife, been arrested by the police and disarmed, but then sent home without charge. The CCTV film was used on several occasions to advertise the effectiveness . .
CitedTammer v Estonia ECHR 6-Feb-2001
Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and the self-fulfilment of each individual. Criminal penalties imposed in respect of the reporting of a . .
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 . .
CitedCoco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd ChD 1968
Requirememts to prove breach of confidence
A claim was made for breach of confidence in respect of technical information whose value was commercial.
Held: Megarry J set out three elements which will normally be required if, apart from contract, a case of breach of confidence is to . .
CitedBeckham v Gibson QBD 29-Apr-2005
The protection of the law of confidence would be illusory if a claimant, in relation to a long and garbled story, was obliged to spell out which of the revelations are accepted as true, and which are said to be false or distorted. . .
CitedAttorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) (‘Spycatcher’) HL 13-Oct-1988
Loss of Confidentiality Protection – public domain
A retired secret service employee sought to publish his memoirs from Australia. The British government sought to restrain publication there, and the defendants sought to report those proceedings, which would involve publication of the allegations . .
CitedWB v H Bauer Publishing Ltd 2002
. .
CitedSmithkline Beecham Plc/BASF AG v Generics (UK) Limited / Smithkline Beecham Plc CA 25-Jul-2003
The claimant had been involved in patent infringement proceedings. Papers had been disclosed to them under confidentiality conditions imposed by the judge. In these subsequent proceedings, they sought leave to use the material.
Held: An order . .
CitedW v Westminster City Council and Others QBD 9-Dec-2004
The claimant sought to bring an action for defamation based upon communications made in a child protection conference. The reference was in a Report for Conference to be held pursuant to the duties imposed on local authorities by the Children Act . .
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. . .
CitedRegina v Broadcasting Complaints Commission Ex Parte Granada Television Ltd CA 16-Dec-1994
The Broadasting Complaints Commission had been established to determine questions of privacy, and the courts should be slow to intervene. The right of privacy of an individual had not been lost by past publicity. That privacy had been infringed by . .
CitedFraser v Evans CA 1969
The law of confidence is based on the moral principles of loyalty and fair dealing. An injunction was sought to restrain an intended publication: ‘The court will not restrain the publication of an article, even though it is defamatory, when the . .
CitedBeloff v Pressdram Ltd QBD 1973
A journalist on The Observer sued the publishers of Private Eye for having published a memorandum of the plaintiff about a politician, Mr Maudling, which had been circulated amongst the employees of The Observer.
Held: The defences to a claim . .
CitedWoodward v Hutchins CA 1977
An injunction was sought to restrain publication of confidential information about a well-known pop group, starring Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. As the group’s press agent, the defendant’s role had been to see that the group received . .
CitedAttorney-General v Parry 2004
. .
CitedFrisbee v Campbell CA 14-Oct-2002
The claimant sought an account against her former employee for the disclosures made by her of their activities. The respondent had signed a confidentiality agreement. The respondent counterclaimed for assault. She now appealed from dismissal of her . .
CitedRegina v Broadcasting Complaints Commission, ex Parte Granada Television Ltd QBD 31-May-1993
The Commission had not been unreasonable in taking the view that a broadcast had infringed the privacy of the subject of the complaint. Judicial Review was not available against BBC for infringement of privacy. . .
CitedLion Laboratories Ltd v Evans CA 1985
Lion Laboratories manufactured and marketed the Lion Intoximeter which was used by the police for measuring blood alcohol levels of motorists. Two ex-employees approached the Press with four documents taken from Lion. The documents indicated that . .
CitedSK and F v Department of Community Services 1990
‘ . . An examination of the recent English decisions shows that the so-called ‘public interest’ defence is not so much a rule of law as an invitation to judicial idiosyncrasy by deciding each case on an ad hoc basis as to whether, on the facts . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromMckennitt and others v Ash and Another CA 25-May-2006
Application for permission to appeal. Granted. . .
Appeal fromAsh 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 . .
CitedAssociated Newspapers Ltd v Prince of Wales CA 21-Dec-2006
The defendant newspaper appealed summary judgment against it for breach of confidence and copyright infringement having published the claimant’s journals which he said were private.
Held: Upheld, although the judge had given insufficient . .
CitedMurray v Express Newspapers Plc and Another ChD 7-Aug-2007
The claimant, now aged four and the son of a famous author, was photographed by use of a long lens, but in a public street. He now sought removal of the photograph from the defendant’s catalogue, and damages for breach of confidence.
Held: The . .
CitedIn re A (A Minor) FD 8-Jul-2011
An application was made in care proceedings for an order restricting publication of information about the family after the deaths of two siblings of the child subject to the application. The Sun and a local newspaper had already published stories . .
CitedIngenious Media Holdings Plc and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Revenue and Customs SC 19-Oct-2016
The tax payer complained that the Permanent Secretary for Tax had, in an off the record briefing disclosed tax details regarding a film investment scheme. Despite the off the record basis, details were published in a newspaper. His claims had been . .
CitedHRH The Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd ChD 11-Feb-2021
Defence had no prospect of success – Struck Out
The claimant complained that the defendant newspaper had published contents from a letter she had sent to her father. The court now considered her claims in breach of privacy and copyright, and her request for summary judgment.
Held: Warby J . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property, Human Rights, Media

Updated: 23 July 2022; Ref: scu.238324