Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Decisions of the 'privacy law judge'

Mr Justice Eady. Copyright Universal Pictorial Press Photo
Mr Justice Eady has made several high-profile privacy judgements

The editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, has launched a scathing attack on the judgements of Mr Justice Eady, accusing him of creating a privacy law by the backdoor.

Mr Dacre highlighted the case of Max Mosley, to whom Mr Justice Eady awarded damages against the News of the World for breaching his privacy under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

Mr Justice Eady, the most senior libel judge in England and Wales, sat on the Calcutt committee in 1990 which considered the introduction of a privacy law.

He was in favour of a law, but journalists opposed it.

The law was never introduced, but the Human Rights Act, which came into force in 2000, enshrined a right to privacy under Article 8.

Legal observers say that that Mr Justice Eady believes he is simply applying the Act and weighing the rights to privacy against freedom of expression.


In July this year, Mr Justice Eady found that Max Mosley's privacy had been breached, arguing that the News of the World had no evidence to support its claim that Mr Mosley had taken part in a "sick Nazi orgy."

Max Mosley
Max Mosley outside the High Court after Mr Justice Eady's ruling this year.

As the activity had contained no Nazi element, the Judge said he was "unable to identify any legitimate public interest to justify either the intrusion of secret filming or the subsequent publication."

Mr Justice Eady went on to say there was "no public interest or other justification for the clandestine recording."

He added that Mr Mosley had a "reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities, albeit unconventional, carried on between consenting adults on private property."

However, Mr Justice Eady did acknowledge that the News of the World honestly believed there were Nazi elements to the orgies, and declined Mr Mosley's request for punitive damages, limiting his award to 60,000.


Lord Browne's career at the helm of BP began to fall apart in 2006 after Lord Justice Eady gave the go-ahead to the Mail on Sunday to publish an account of his private life by an ex-boyfriend.

Lord Browne
Lord Browne resigns from BP having lied to a court over his private life.

Mr Justice Eady rejected Lord Browne's plea to keep his relationship out of the public eye, claiming that it was widely known about in business, media and political circles.

He added that the allegations made by his former lover Jeff Chevalier, that Browne had used company resources to set him up in his own mobile ring-tone business, were a matter of legitimate concern to BP shareholders.


In 2005, Mr Justice Eady awarded 5,000 in damages and an injunction to Loreena McKennitt against Niema Ash, a former friend who he deemed had written an intrusive biography of Ms McKennitt, entitled My Life as a Friend.

The Judge ruled that parts of the book, covering McKennitt's health and diet, her feelings towards a fiance who had tragically drowned, and her personal and sexual relationships, were private matters.

As a result, Ash had made "unauthorised used of private information" and had violated a duty of confidence.


In 1990, the Allo Allo actor, Gorden Kaye, was photographed in hospital by two Sunday Sport journalists while he recovered from brain surgery.

Gordon Kaye
Gorden Kaye in the BBC's Allo Allo

The reporter and photographer had disguised themselves as medical staff.

Mr Justice Eady was strongly influenced by the absence of any legal protection against publication for Mr Kaye, saying that there was "a serious gap in the jurisprudence of any civilised society, if such a gross intrusion could happen without redress."


In 2006 Mr Justice Eady prevented a husband from going to the newspapers with revelations of his wife's affair with a sport star, believed to be a well-known footballer.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Eady argued the husband's right to free expression was trumped by the right to privacy of his wife and the celebrity - still un-named - with whom she had cuckolded him.

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