AMM v News Group Newspapers [2014]

In AMM v News Group Newspapers [2014] EWHC 4063 (QB) the Claimant is an individual and the Defendant the publisher of the Sun on Sunday Newspaper. The proceedings concerned an injunction which the Claimant applied for to stop the Defendant publishing a story relating to him in respect of a sexual relationship he once had in 2011.

Mr Justice Stewart granted the injunction for a short time to allow for further evidence following a hearing before him on Saturday 29th November 2014.

The Defendant had said they would give an undertaking not to publish the story for seven days but would not give this undertaking to the Court and also had not confirmed their agreement to the Claimant’s application to remain anonymous.

The Court was satisfied having regard to s12 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) that the Defendant had been given notification of the Claimant’s application. HRA s12 (2) states the court should not to grant relief against a Defendant who is unrepresented or not present unless the court is satisfied that they have been notified in this respect. Mr Justice Stewart was satisfied that the Defendant had been notified of the Claimant’s application for an injunction to be heard on the 28th November 2014.

Subsections 12(3) and (4) HRA provide:

“(3) No such relief is to be granted so as to restrain publication before trial unless the court is satisfied that the applicant is likely to establish that publication should not be allowed.
(4) The court must have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression and, where the proceedings relate to material which the respondent claims, or which appears to the court, to be journalistic, …(or to conduct connected with such material), to—
(a) the extent to which—
(i) the material has, or is about to, become available to the public; or
(ii) it is, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published;
(b) any relevant privacy code.”

The judge was satisfied that the Applicant was likely to establish that publication should not be allowed on the information available to him. If the information was published and it proved later to have been published wrongfully then damages would not be an adequate remedy.

In emails between the Claimant Solicitors and the Defendants Solicitors the Defendant made an offer not to publish any story in respect of those matters referred to in the Claimant’s draft order for seven days and there was further agreement concerning directions for the further hearing.

Mr Justice Stewart having regard to Article 6 of the European Court of Human Rights and CPR 30.2(1) made the decision that the proceedings should be private and anonymised and that without anonymity, the Claimant, he considered would be the subject of extreme and unwarranted interest as to what story he was trying to stop being published.

Mr Justice Stewart then considered whether an injunction was a necessity given that the Defendant had offered the undertaking not to publish the story within 7 days but they had not provided any agreement as to anonymity which Mr Justice Stewart reasoned was a necessity although he did consider that the Defendant did not object to the anonymity but on the other hand they had not agreed to it. For this reason he believed that an injunction was necessary.

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