BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 11 March, 2002, 16:56 GMT
'Kiss and tell' ban overturned
Court graphic
A married Premier League footballer who had affairs with two women could be named after a Court of Appeal ruling went in favour of press freedom.

The Sunday People was told on Monday it had won its appeal against an order banning publication of "kiss and tell stories" about the footballer.

Last September, High Court judge Mr Justice Jack ruled that the laws of confidentiality could apply to relationships outside marriage.

He ordered that the newspaper be barred from printing interviews with the women - one a lap dancer and the other a nursery teacher who claims he used his wealth, fame and position to seduce her.

Footballers are role models for young people and undesirable behaviour on their part can set an unfortunate example

Lord Woolf

The unprecedented ruling was met with widespread dismay from media commentators and editors who felt it was an attack on press freedom.

On Monday, Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, backed the newspaper's view that the story was in the public interest.

He said the footballer was "inevitably a figure in whom a section of the public and the media would be interested".

He added: "Footballers are role models for young people and undesirable behaviour on their part can set an unfortunate example."

Lord Woolf
Lord Woolf backed press freedom

He and the two other top judges who heard the appeal said in a judgement: "In our view to grant an injunction would be an unjustified interference with the freedom of the press.

"Once it is accepted that the freedom of the press should prevail, then the form of reporting in the press is not a matter for the courts but for the Press Council and the customers of the newspaper concerned."

The footballer was given three weeks to appeal to the House of Lords and convince them that they should hear his case.

'Historic victory'

Neil Wallis, editor of the Sunday People, hailed the judgment as an "historic victory" and said he was confident the case would not go to a full hearing in the Lords.

"This is a clear message to the judges of this country," he said.

"The court is saying that the public interest is not something to be judged by judges or the broadsheets or the chattering classes - it is what interests the public."

Both sides had used the European Convention of Human Rights to argue their case.

The footballer invoked article 8 which guarantees the right to privacy, whereas the newspaper said its rights to freedom of expression were enshrined in article 10.

See also:

11 Mar 02 | UK
Press versus privacy
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories