On Saturday 29 November 2014, Mr Justice Stewart granted a privacy injunction against the “Sun on Sunday” to restrain the publication of information about a sexual relationship. This was the first privacy injunction against the media since January 2013.
The Judge handed down a short judgment on Wednesday 3 December 2014 ( EWHC 4063 (QB)). He noted that the information covered by the injunction concerned a sexual relationship that the Applicant had in 2011 . The Sun on Sunday had been willing to give an undertaking not to publish for 7 days, but not an undertaking to the Court.
The Sun on Sunday had been notified on 28 November 2014 that the Applicant was going to seek an injunction and, on Saturday 29 November 2014 was served with the evidence, draft application, Skeleton Argument and draft Order. The Sun on Sunday indicated that it did not propose to attend the hearing.
The Judge held that the test in section 12 of the Human Rights Act 1998 was satisfied: that the Applicant was likely to establish that publication should not be allowed. He noted that
“The Respondent first intended to publish the information in March 2013 but, after the Applicant indicated that an injunction would be sought, the Respondent agreed not to publish any material encompassing the matters without first providing 48 hours notice to the Applicant’s solicitors of intended publication. … . Further, during the email exchanges on Saturday, 29 November 2014, no substantive reason had been given justifying publication as being in the public interest. Three reasons which had been suggested in 2013 did not, on the face of them, appear particularly cogent” .
He was satisfied that, balancing Articles 8 and 10, the balance was in favour of the Applicant.
He then dealt with his rulings that the proceedings should be in private and concluded that this was necessary and that it was also necessary for the Applicant to be anonymised
“Absent anonymity the Applicant would in my judgment be subject to intense speculation as to the nature of the private information to be injuncted. This speculation may well cause at least as great, if not greater, harm than the publication of the information itself and may well also lead to the injuncted information becoming public by one means or another” .
The Judge considered that an injunction was necessary because, although the Respondent had agreed not to publish within 7 days there was no agreement to anonymity. He also noted that the Respondent had failed to give the 48 hours agreed notice of intended publication.
A directions hearing in this case took place on 5 December 2014 before Sir David Eady.
The last privacy injunction granted against a media defendant was in the case of Rocknroll v News Group Newspapers ( EWHC 24 (Ch)), on 17 January 2013.