The Media and Communications Court has assessed the damages payable by Katie Price to her ex-husband, Alex Reid, for revenge porn. The court criticised Ms Price’s “arrogant” and “very distressing” behaviour, for which Mr Reid was entitled to compensation.
Katie Price has been ordered to pay ex-husband, Alex Reid, £25,000 in damages after she revealed intimate details of his sex life to third parties on numerous separate occasions. He had sued her for damages for misuse of private information, breach of confidentiality and breach of contract, as well as for compensation under the Data Protection Act 1998.
In assessing damages, Mr Justice Warby focused on compensating Mr Reid for the wrongful retention and wrongful disclosure of images relating to his sexual conduct and the wrongful disclosure of information about that conduct. He did not consider that there was a material difference in the claims for misuse of private information, confidentiality and breach of statutory duty, or that the breach of contract claim made any material difference to damages. Warby J held that the claim for wrongful disclosure was the dominant factor over the retention of sensitive personal data.
Warby J rejected the submission that the claim warranted the same level of damages as in the Max Mosely libel case or in the phone-hacking litigation. But he agreed that “the claimant has found it demeaning to have details of his sex life disclosed, repeatedly, in this way, and that he has suffered a real loss of personal dignity and harm to his self-esteem.”
The judge was highly critical of Ms Price’s behaviour, describing it as “persistent, flagrant, arrogant, high-handed, and inexcusable, and for those reasons very distressing and hurtful to the claimant”.
Warby J was limited to an award of £25,000, in line with Mr Reid’s claim form, but stated that he was satisfied the claim merited an award of at least that sum. In light of Ms Price’s bankruptcy, however, he put a stay on enforcement of the damages award and existing (and future) costs awards.
This judgment confirms that the English Media and Communications Court takes seriously revenge porn and the distress that this can cause. The judge was clearly minded to award Mr Reid significantly more than £25,000, but was constrained by his claim form – a lesson in itself in not undervaluing a claim in order to pay a lesser court issue fee at the outset. It is also important to note that legal costs in a case of this nature are likely to be several times higher than damages.