19.2.04

Jonny's lawyers put the boot in!

Its turning out to be a bumper week for complaints about intrusion into privacy. It is ironic that the majority of complaints about the media tend to be in relation to privacy yet the law has up until now not been willing to accept privacy itself as a legal right.

This was confirmed by the House of Lords in the Wainwright case in October last year - so will the House of Lords change its position in the wake of Naomi Campbell's appeal?

Having been thrust into the limelight after the rugby world cup, Jonny Wilkinson has been a reluctant star. So when on Tuesday several papers printed some snaps of him and his girlfriend on a beach in the Seychelles he was not too pleased. His lawyers have warned various papers that the publication was a serious breach of privacy.

So should the papers be concerned? - only if the House of Lords and the courts are as effective at applying the boot as Jonny. Whether a beach is a place where one can expect privacy is up for debate. Some cases such as that of newsreader Anna Ford have decided not but others such as that involving Sara Cox or more recently Ewan McGregor have. It may come down to whether it was a private beach or not or how reasonable his expectation was that this should be private.

It is to be hoped that given they have the Campbell case before them this week the House of Lords will do the law, celebrities and the public a favour by finally lending some clarity to the interpretation of privacy and what the definition or reasonable expectation might be. The fact there is not privacy law in enacted form should not preclude them from doing that.

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