A student who was wrongly identified in a YouTube clip as being the man guilty of running away without paying a taxi fare, failed last year to satisfy the High Court that six national newspapers had breached the terms of injunctions he had obtained against Facebook, Google and YouTube.
The injunctions directed the removal of the offending clip from a number of websites, including YouTube and “other parties with notice of the making of the orders”. It also prohibited reposting of the video and naming the student, Eoin McKeogh.
Mr McKeogh subsequently argued that six newspapers breached the terms of the injunctions by identifying him in court reports relating to his court application, as they fell within the meaning of “other parties with notice of the making of the orders”. He also sought to prevent the newspapers from identifying him in any future reporting of his case.
The newspapers successfully opposed the application by arguing that they did not fall within the remit of the injunction orders. The media successfully also argued that any restriction on their right to court report, and in particular any restriction to prevent them from identifying Mr McKeogh as the applicant for the injunctions, was unconstitutional in the context of this claim.
The court sympathised with Mr McKeogh, but ruled against him. According to Judge Peart, the right to have justice administered in public exceeded the right to privacy save in exceptional cases, and this was not such a case. The court also felt that it was counterintuitive that someone would try to vindicate his good name anonymously as the damage had already been done and the “genie was out of the bottle”.