Super injunction drama concludes

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Public and press should not be allowed to force the hand of the law, lawyer says

The Supreme Court has handed down its decision in what has become knowns as the 'celebrity threesome injunction': PJS -v- News Group Newspapers Ltd.

A leading lawyer in the field has welcomed the decision.

PJS, a celebrity, husband and father, has fought for his right to privacy - fearing that his family could face a barrage of harassment if the injunction was lifted . PJS was originally successful in barring the Sun on Sunday from printing his name, a decision which was later overturned by the Court of Appeal. The newspaper was planning to run a story around the celebrity’s alleged extra-marital activities but has so far been prevented from doing so.

Arif Khalfe is a litigation specialist with Simpson Millar solicitors. Last summer, he successfully secured a permanent injunction to prevent the publication of his client's personal details in the case of CHS v DNH.

Arif says: "This case features some of the most important issues in our society today: the right to privacy versus freedom of expression.

"Super injunctions are a powerful and sometimes necessary tool - matching the potentially irrevocable damage a single newspaper article can cause to someone's reputation and finances, not to mention the impact on their families and children.

"The argument that an injunction becomes invalid simply because the person's name has been disclosed in a foreign jurisdiction is a dangerous one; opening the floodgates to journalism that urges readers to take matters into their own hands. Although this situation might seem draconian - where the UK media is prevented from printing a name that a large number of people already know - it has become a matter of principle. The press and the public should not be allowed to force the hand of the law.

"The question we should ask ourselves is which direction we want our society to take? Do we begin to place a greater value on privacy, or do we opt for a world where freedom of expression is absolute, and then live with the consequences?"

THE CASE DIARY

In January, the Sun on Sunday won the first round when the High Court judge refused to impose an injunction.

The Court of Appeal then overturned that decision - imposing a ban which prevented PJS and his wife YMA from being named.

Later on, three appeal judges ruled the ban should be lifted following arguments that the celebrity had already been named in newspapers outside of England, and online. On 21 April, the case was heard in the Supreme Court. The decision was handed down at 9.30 on 19 May.


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