X and Y v Persons Unknown: QBD 8 Nov 2006

The claimants sought an injunction against unknown persons who were said to have divulged confidential matters to newspapers. The order had been served on newspapers who now complained that the order was too uncertain to allow them to know how to obey it. Associated Newspapers had agreed to an undertaking, but then were served with an injunction in wider terms.
Held: The court considered what might be considered to be public about a couple’s relationship: ‘if someone asks ‘How’s married life treating you?’ and the response is ‘Fine’, that does not mean that the public is entitled to a ring-side seat when stresses and strains emerge (as happens in most relationships from time to time). It is disingenuous to pretend otherwise. Ordinary polite ‘chit chat’ of this kind is qualitatively different from volunteering to release private information for public consumption. ‘ At the same time, some facts about a separation have no privacy, such as that the couple are living apart. The order therefore scheduled the kinds of facts about the couple which were to be respected as private.
As for disclosure: ‘If and in so far as the exigencies of the occasion permit, anyone applying for an injunction must comply with his or her obligation of full and frank disclosure. In cases of this kind, that will generally involve a search of the internet or previous publications relating to the same category of information now sought to be protected. The court will need all the assistance available, for the purpose of deciding ‘likelihood’ of success, and in particular for making a preliminary judgment as to whether ‘the information in question is so generally accessible that, in all the circumstances, it cannot be regarded as confidential’.’ In this case, though the investigation might be criticised the parties should not be refused injunctive relief. A public domain proviso should be added. Attempts should also be made to trace the wrongdoers so that the litigation should not go to sleep leaving a permanent injunction.


Eady J


[2006] EWHC 2783 (QB), [2007] EMLR 290, [2007] 1 FLR 1567




Human Rigts Act 1998 12


England and Wales


CitedAttorney-General v Newspaper Publishing plc CA 1987
The court explained the common law basis of the law of contempt of court. Lloyd LJ said: ‘Since the test of contempt is not a breach of the order but interference with the administration of justice, it follows that at common law a contempt may be . .
CitedR (Mrs) v Central Independent Television Plc CA 17-Feb-1994
The court did not have power to stop a TV program identifying a ward of court, but which was not about the care of the ward. The first instance court had granted an injunction in relation to a television programme dealing with the arrest and the . .
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 . .
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 . .
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 . .
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 . .
CitedVenables and Thompson v News Group Newspapers and others QBD 8-Jan-2001
Where it was necessary to protect life, an order could be made to protect the privacy of individuals, by disallowing publication of any material which might identify them. Two youths had been convicted of a notorious murder when they were ten, and . .
CitedBloomsbury Publishing Group Ltd and J K Rowling v News Group Newspapers Ltd and others ChD 23-May-2003
The publishers had gone to great lengths to keep advance copies of a forthcoming book in the Harry Potter series secret. They became aware that some had been stolen from the printers and sought injunctions against the defendants and another unnamed . .
CitedHalford v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Jun-1997
The interception of the telephone calls of an employee in a private exchange was a breach of her right of privacy. She had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The police force’s surveillances of the applicant’s telephone (to obtain information . .
CitedCream Holdings Limited and others v Banerjee and others HL 14-Oct-2004
On her dismissal from the claimant company, Ms Banerjee took confidential papers revealing misconduct to the local newspaper, which published some. The claimant sought an injunction to prevent any further publication. The defendants argued that the . .
CitedSouth Cambridgeshire District Council v Persons Unknown CA 17-Sep-2004
The council appealed refusal of an order against persons unknown with regard to preventing breaches of planning control at a specific site.
Held: An injunction could properly be granted against persons unknown ‘causing or permitting hardcore . .
CitedA v B plc and Another QBD 10-Sep-2001
The applicant, a professional footballer, sought an injunction to prevent the defendant newspaper and the woman second defendant from publishing or disclosing details of a sexual relationship between them. He succeeded. There was no public interest . .
CitedBloomsbury Publishing Group Ltd and J K Rowling v News Group Newspapers Ltd and others ChD 23-May-2003
The publishers had gone to great lengths to keep advance copies of a forthcoming book in the Harry Potter series secret. They became aware that some had been stolen from the printers and sought injunctions against the defendants and another unnamed . .
CitedHer Majesty’s Attorney General v Punch Limited and another HL 12-Dec-2002
A former MI5 agent, Mr Shayler, was to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, and an injunction against publication was granted. The respondent published further works by Mr Shayler, and now appealed a finding that it had acted in contempt of . .
CitedJockey Club v Buffham QBD 13-Sep-2002
A court had issued a final order with an injunction against the respondent against revealing matters becoming known to him during his employment by the claimant. The BBC sought a variation to allow it to broadcast material based upon that documents . .
CitedRedwing Ltd v Redwing Forest Products Ltd 1947
The court was asked as to an alleged breach of an undertaking given by the defendant not to advertise or offer for sale any products as ‘Redwing’ products so as to be liable to lead to the belief that they were the plaintiff’s.
Held: The court . .
CitedAttorney-General v Greater Manchester Newspapers Ltd QBD 4-Dec-2001
The defendant newspaper had published facts relating to the whereabouts of two youths protected by injunction against the publication of any information likely to lead to their location. The injunction was not ambiguous or unclear. ‘Likely’ did not . .

Cited by:

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 . .
CitedJIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd QBD 5-Nov-2010
The court was asked as to the circumstances under which the identity of a claimant should be protected in an action where he sought to restrain the publication of private information about him.
Held: Tugendhat J accepted the proposition . .
CitedCTB v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Another (1) QBD 16-May-2011
A leading footballer had obtained an injunction restraining the defendants from publishing his identity and allegations of sexual misconduct. The claimant said that she had demanded money not to go public.
Held: It had not been suggested that . .
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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Litigation Practice

Updated: 08 July 2022; Ref: scu.245980