UK Supreme Court upholds press ban in celebrity threesome case

Reuters News
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Posted: May 19, 2016 4:38 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an injunction preventing the English press from naming a celebrity who was involved in a much publicized extra-marital threesome.

The ruling means media in England and Wales remain banned from naming the people involved, even though their names have been widely reported on the Internet since a U.S. magazine published the full story on April 6.

In a four-to-one majority ruling, the Supreme Court held that the story was not in the public interest and that publication of the names of the protagonists by the English press would be a serious breach of privacy.

The court said that even though the story was easily accessible on the Internet and social media, for it to be splashed all over the English papers would lead to "potentially more enduring invasions" of privacy.

The person at the heart of the story is in the entertainment industry and is married to a very famous person in the same business. The couple have two young children, who would also be at risk of an invasion of their privacy, the court said.

The case has stirred debate in Britain about whether injunctions, court orders banning publication of private information in certain circumstances, still serve any practical purpose in the age of the Internet.

The ruling will anger London-based tabloid newspapers, which had vociferously argued that the injunction was absurd when the details were easily available at the click of a mouse.

Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger acknowledged the debate in remarks included in the judgment, suggesting that if parliament felt case law had not caught up with modern realities, it could change relevant legislation.

"The courts exist to protect legal rights, even when their protection is difficult or unpopular in some quarters," he wrote.

"And if Parliament takes the view that the courts have not adapted the law to fit current realities, then, of course, it can change the law."

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Kate Holton)