Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Saturday, 30 January 2010

John Terry gagging order lifted by High Court

John Terry
John Terry's lawyers had secured the injunction last week

An injunction stopping the media from reporting allegations about England football captain John Terry's private life has been lifted by the High Court.

Mr Justice Tugendhat removed the order, which banned reports about married Terry's alleged affair with an England team-mate's ex-girlfriend.

The Chelsea star is alleged to have had an affair with French model Vanessa Perroncel, ex-partner of Wayne Bridge.

An interim order had been granted at a private hearing in London last Friday.

It had banned publication of details of the alleged relationship and barred the use of photographs relating to it.

However, the judge said the information was in "wide circulation amongst those involved in the sport in question, including agents and others, and not just amongst those directly engaged in the sport".

Justice Tugendhat said he thought Terry's real concern was the effect on his sponsorship contracts, in which case, payment of damages would be an adequate remedy if he succeeded at trial.

The judge said: "Freedom to live as one chooses is one of the most valuable freedoms, but so is the freedom to criticise".

John Terry and Wayne Bridge played together at Chelsea until Wayne Bridge moved to Manchester City in 2008. It has not been revealed when the affair is alleged to have taken place.

There has been more prior restraint on freedom of speech in Britain than in any other democratic country in the world
Tom Crone, News of the World

Lawyers for Terry had obtained the injunction a week ago, after learning that the News of the World planned to write about him.

BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas said the existence of these so-called super-injunctions had become more widely known recently.

He said: "Lawyers for the oil trading firm Trafigura stopped a parliamentary question being reported by the Guardian, until its identity became widely known via the Twitter social network.

"This ruling recognises the right of media to report."

News of the World legal manager Tom Crone welcomed the decision as "a long overdue breath of fresh air and common sense".

"Over recent years, there has been more prior restraint on freedom of speech in Britain than in any other democratic country in the world," he said.

"Gagging orders like the one sought by John Terry have been granted to numerous other Premier League footballers and assorted celebrities."

He said he hoped the ruling would lead to "a fundamental reassessment of our draconian privacy laws".

A Chelsea spokesman said: "This is a personal matter for John Terry. The club will give John and his family all the support they need in dealing with it."

Terry, 29, married childhood sweetheart Toni Poole in 2007 and is the father of twins.

He has captained the England team since August 2006, when he took over from David Beckham. The FA has declined to comment.

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