UK: The Times They Are A-Changing…Back?

Last Updated: 18 September 2012
Article by Duncan Lamont

Just when cheating celebrities thought it was safe to go back into the water and get drenched to the bone, frolicking in villa side pools in Tuscany or beaches in the Seychelles, the tabloids have tried to put the privacy clock back and show that they continue to mean business prior to the publication of Lord Leveson's findings.

TV presenters and other public figures, some of whom who have obtained privacy injunctions in the past, had hoped that the PCC Code of Practice and OFCOM privacy rules might have given them freedom to let their hair down with members of the other opposite sex without the risk of public scrutiny but, bizarrely, the tabloids are have been hitting back with privacy injunctions (sometimes called super injunctions) in full retreat and kiss n' tells, or at least celebrity surveillance, back in fashion.

Whilst it could at least be argued that there was a public interest in photographs of a senior member of the Royal Family misbehaving naked in Vegas (security issues, at tax payers expense and so on) the public interest was less obvious in the desire of the Sun to expose and humiliate (again) the ex-England football manager, Steve McClaren who failed in his attempt to injunct the paper.

In mid-August, on a Saturday morning, Mr McClaren, now a professional football manager in Holland, married with three children, learned the Sun was going to publish details of an extra marital relationship. The Sun had a photograph of him walking along a street in Manchester with his lady friend and wanted to publish details of the relationship. The justification for this intrusion into his private life (the Court was told that the lady was keen to tell her story) was that about six years ago Mr McClaren had another extra marital relationship and an article about it was published in the Sun when the claimant (his lawyers had rung the judge and he was seeking a Saturday afternoon privacy injunction against the newspaper) was in the running for the England manager's job. PR Max Clifford, on behalf of McClaren, sold the story to the Sun to get it out in the open in a controlled way. Mr McClaren had had an affair whilst he had been separated briefly from his wife. He said it was a lapse and that he wanted to concentrate on his family life and the England job, which he subsequently was awarded. In the intervening years he mentioned his family twice more according to the Sun's QC. It was argued that the claimant was still a public figure and, as he was playing away again, was a hypocrite. The Sun wanted to make the legitimate point, in the public interest, that high standards of conduct were absent in football. The judge was not satisfied that Mr McClaren would ever get a permanent injunction so was not entitled to a temporary one under the law as it stands and threw out the claim. It remains to be seen if the claimant will persist in it bearing in mind the story has been published (and one suspects largely forgotten about).

This was not a one-off. Television newsman, Dermot Murnaghan and BBC Presenter Andrew Marr "had news flashes for their wives" recently when both were caught by tabloids "smooching with other women". Photographs of them with rather younger brunettes were published underneath the not unamusing headline "Current Affairs"!

Whilst the newspapers were giving evidence to Lord Leveson stories like this were simply not being published. And now they are again. Has the law changed? No. Has the Press Complaints Commission Code of Conduct changed? No. OFCOM Code? No. What seems to have happened is that newspapers have some inkling of the hurricane of criticism likely to be coming their way from the Leveson Inquiry, so are damned if you do and damned if you don't, and also realised that legal principles become irrelevant if bored readers are not prepared to purchase bland products as the sales of paid for newspapers collapses.

Before this flurry of activity it appeared that both claimant solicitors (with blooded noses after some failed injunctions) and the tabloids (presses halted by last minute injunctions and having to pay out substantial legal costs and some privacy damages to boot) and fought themselves to a standstill. Perhaps it was not that the press was behaving well to please Lord Leveson: perhaps it was celebrities who had stopped misbehaving! or perhaps there is little chance of that!

Perhaps nothing changes at all. Thanks to the internet, and then the Sun, we saw the photographs of naked Prince Harry. But naked surreptitiously taken paparazzi photographs of his dad, and even his uncle, had existed from decades ago (albeit not misbehaving, but simply in the buff) although they may not have seen the light in the UK as newspapers were a little bit more respectful of the modern monarchy in the 1980s then they became in the 1990s and beyond ...but such pictures existed but were not exploited even though no privacy law then existed.

The return of kiss n' tell, and the imminent publication of the thoughts of Lord Leveson, is going to make it a very interesting, if fraught, autumn for newspaper proprietors and celebrities alike.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions