The trial of the privacy claim brought by Carina Trimingham against Associated Newspapers which began yesterday before Mr Justice Tugendhat has been adjourned following a successful application for permission to amend by the claimant.
The case was opened yesterday by William Bennett on behalf of Ms Trimingham who told Mr Justice Tugendhat that a series of stories about her relationship with Chris Huhne MP was a “cataclysmic interference” in her private life.Complaint was made of eight newspaper articles which described her as Mr Huhne’s “bisexual lover”, “boyish”, and referred to the “life and very different loves of the PR girl in Doc Martens”, saying she had had relationships with men and women “but generally not at the same time”. Mr Bennett said
“It is exposing aspects of the sexual history of the claimant which she says she is entitled to keep confidential, and we say there is no public interest in exposing those elements of her“
Antony White QC, for the defendant, Associated Newspapers, said Ms Trimingham was not a purely private individual but an experienced communications consultant who helped politicians present their message and image to the public. Mr White said that in 2007 Mr Huhne made public statements to the effect that nothing in the nature of marital infidelity would emerge in relation to his private life.
He said that the General Election and scandals about sex were
“an important backdrop against which Chris Huhne, with the assistance of Carina Trimingham, had to decide how to present himself to the electorate.“
He went on to say:
“Two people knew the truth about that blatant piece of political hypocrisy and those two people, Mr Huhne himself and the claimant, his press adviser Ms Trimingham. Both knew that the message presented to the electorate was a false one. In fact, Chris Huhne was not committed to his own family – he was in a relationship which was leading to him leaving his wife – or committed to family values generally. He was engaged in a secret doubly adulterous relationship with the claimant.”
He said that those facts formed the “core” of an important public interest story which involved “serious hypocrisy by a minister of state”.
He pointed out that the claimant only complained about a small selection of short quotations from the articles, and that this seemed to be more about their tone than the allegedly private information disclosed.
In the course of the hearing Mr Justice Tugendhat said that he thought it would be extremely unsatisfactory for him to try the case without considering whether the pleaded facts also amounted to harassment. On the second day the Claimant applied to amend to include a harassment claim. The Judge allowed the amendment, giving the defendant 28 days to file an amended defence, and adjourned the trial.