The Supreme Court’s decision this morning to continue the injunction in the PJS case represents a huge victory for privacy rights in this country. The Court made clear that Lord Justice Jackson and his fellow judges in the Court of Appeal had been wrong to decide that the article 8 right to privacy and the article 10 right to freedom of information did not start with equal weight when carrying out the balancing exercise under section 12 of the Human Rights Act. The case law establishes that neither article 8 nor article 10 has preference over the other and what is necessary is an intense focus on the comparative rights being claimed in an individual case, the Court said.
The Supreme Court made clear that in privacy claims the impact of any additional disclosure on the likely distress to a claimant and his family, and the degree of intrusion or harassment are highly relevant.
It also made clear that there is no public interest in kiss and tell stories simply because the people involved are well known. An important factor too was that the Court recognised that an exceptional public interest is necessary to override the rights of children, as stated in the Editors’ Code of Practice. The Court acknowledged that damages would offer no consolation or redress to the Claimant.
The majority of four Supreme Court judges concluded that PJS was likely to establish at trial that the proposed publication by NGN constitutes a serious breach of his and his family’s privacy rights, with no countervailing public interest on the present evidence, and that he is likely to be granted a permanent injunction notwithstanding the internet and social media publication.