Bonking banker wants Daily Mail done for contempt
After the partial lifting of the superinjunction over Fred the Shred’s affair last week, the Daily Mail published a piece in which it created a profile of the banker Fred had been bonking. Now that bonking banker (who was identified as a senior executive who had worked alongside Fred the Banker at RBS) has unleashed her (and Fred’s) counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC to persuade the High Court to petition the Attorney General to launch contempt of court proceedings against the Daily Mail for breaching what was left of the superinjunction.
Mr Justice Tugendhat, who has barely had a chance to leave the bench in the High Court this last week it would seem, heard Tomlinson’s claim that the Daily Mail had sought to deliberately flout the injunction which, although lifted in part – to the extent the fact Fred the Shred had become Fred the Bed could be known – had not been lifted to the extent that it allowed identification of the woman or details of the affair.
Tomlinson sought to persuade Mr Justice Tugendhat that the paper had been deliberate in its actions and included sufficient material (he pointed to some 10 elements of the coverage) to allow the woman to be identified by those who might know who she is.
Jonathan Caplan QC for the Mail responded that there had been no deliberate intention.
Mr Justice Tugendhat has reserved his decision on whether to refer the matter to the Attorney General to bring contempt proceedings.
So what’s the issue?
Well its all down to the extent of the identification and the intent of the paper. As opposed to strict liability contempt under the Contempt of Court Act, for common law contempt to arise, there has to have been intent on the part of the Mail to interfere with the administration of justice – i.e. breach or disregard the injunction.
So Tugendhat will have to assess whether the Mail was intending to disregard what was left of the injunction or whether it was – as it would suggest – merely running a profile piece that did not intend to disrespect the court order…mmm
Mediabeak thinks the paper was probably sailing very close to the wind on this one so Tugendhat might conclude that although there might not be public interest in the profile of Fred’s bonking buddy, there similarly might not be public interest in wasting tax payers money on pursuing the paper for contempt when if miss bonking banker was that exercised over her profile being outed she could always bring a privacy action! – ok so the injunction bit hasn’t worked too well but that does not preclude her from seeking damages for having her privacy invaded. That would seem a more equitable approach – given she was working for RBS and that had to be bailed out by taxpayers money it would be perverse if more taxpayers money had to be spent on legal action relating to her bonking when she should have been banking.
Meanwhile, it does not take too much in the way of resourcing to ascertain the name or names in the frame with at least one website offering a shortlist while others proudly unmask the pixellated face that appeared in the Daily Mail piece.