High Court Refuses Injunction To Stop An Explicit Video Being Shown On Newspaper Website

LAWFUEL – This month, the High Court refused to grant an injunction to prevent video footage of Max Mosley, the head of Formula 1 motor-racing, being shown on the News of the World website (Case of Mosley v News Group Newspapers Limited, 9 April 2008).

The website, maintained by the defendant, News Group Newspapers Limited (NGN), had made explicit video footage available, then removed it voluntarily. The events had received widespread worldwide coverage and the video had been made available on other websites. NGN subsequently decided to make the video available again; when notified, Mr Mosley applied for an interim injunction to prevent this.

The court held that the material was so widely available on other websites that granting an injunction would make very little practical difference and would be a futile gesture, as anyone searching for the material on the internet would be able to find it. Eady J also found that Mr Mosley no longer had any reasonable expectation of respect for his privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR); if he did, the law would afford no practical protection due to the extent to which the material had entered the public domain.

However, the court dismissed the newspaper’s public-interest arguments under Article 10 of the ECHR, stating that the public interest in revealing the material is not compelling enough to override Mr Mosley’s right to protection under Art 8 of the ECHR.

This decision highlights that Courts will be unlikely to grant an injunction to prevent publication of material that is already widely available online. It also serves as a warning that courts may be unresponsive to public-interest arguments relating to the publication of explicit material.

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