Thursday, November 23, 2006

McKennitt injunction in the Court of Appeal

I blogged some time abo about Loreena McKennitt's successful bid in the UK High Courts to have an unflattering book pulled from shelves (Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Canadian folk singer opens the door to expanded privacy for celebrities in Europe ). Now the story is back in the news as she takes the battle to the Court of Appeal:

Canadian singer's privacy case back in London court Entertainment Entertainment News

Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:28 PM GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt's action to prevent details of her life appearing in a book by a former friend was challenged in court on Tuesday, the second case this week that could influence English privacy law.

She won a High Court ruling in London last year in which the judge prevented the disclosure of details of her private life in a book by Niema Ash called "Travels With Loreena McKennitt".

Ash and the book's publishers, Purple Inc Press, are seeking to overturn the ruling in the Court of Appeal, arguing that it struck a "triple whammy" against freedom of expression.

A successful appeal could pave the way for the book to go back on sale -- about 300 copies were sold before it was withdrawn from shelves.

On Monday, celebrity magazines OK! and Hello! took their protracted row over photographs of the 2000 wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones to the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament which is also England's highest court.

That case is also being closely watched for which side the lords favour -- the celebrities and OK! magazine, who had an exclusive deal for the photographs, or Hello! which published unauthorised "spoiler" images of the event.

Legal experts say protecting people's private lives is one of the areas of the law most affected by the introduction of human rights legislation six years ago.

David Price, lawyer for Ash and Purple, told the court that considerable uncertainty surrounded privacy laws in the country.

"There is a perception that the law relating to breach of confidence and misuse of private information is in a state of some uncertainty," he said. "This uncertainty is undesirable. It has a chilling effect on freedom of expression."

He said the original judgement in McKennitt's favour set a "low hurdle" on what qualified as private information and a difficult and restrictive test for justifying information that is private.

He said it blurred the distinction between defamation and privacy which was a "particular concern for book publishers".

The court ruled last year that McKennitt was entitled to an injunction restricting publication of passages of the book which fell into categories including personal relationships, emotional vulnerability and her feelings for her late fiancé who drowned.

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