Campbell ruling 'threatens investigative journalism'

12.45pm: Serious investigative journalism could be 'killed off' by the privacy precedent set by Naomi Campbell's victory over the Mirror, a top media lawyer has warned. By Julia Day.

Serious investigative journalism could be "killed off" by the privacy precedent set by Naomi Campbell's victory over the Mirror newspaper, a top media lawyer has warned.

Some of the country's biggest public scandals might never have been uncovered by journalists if the rules set by the judge today had been in place, according to Paul Gilbert, a media lawyer at London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent.

And he believes the ruling causes confusion about privacy and could lead celebrities to use the courts to attempt to gag the media.

Mr Gilbert said there was reason for concern at Ms Campbell's victory on counts of breach of confidence and unlawful invasion of privacy.

"The media needs to be very careful about what they reveal and where information comes from. Journalists will need to look very carefully at what the judge has found," he said.

"The Keith Vaz case, for instance, would not have been revealed if it weren't for some very thorough investigative journalism. The biggest fear is that this sort of journalism may be killed off."

"There is reason for concern. Journalists will have to look very careful at the reasons why Naomi Campbell won and be careful about the source of the information and have an ear as to whether what they are investigating is in the public interest."

The cases against Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken, built up through journalistic investigation, might also have never reached the conclusion they did had today's ruling been in place.

But Mr Gilbert said Mr Justice Morland's ruling will cause confusion - it flies in the face of a recent ruling over a footballer's courtroom battle with the People newspaper over a "kiss-and-tell" story about a top footballer.

Today's ruling could also lead to celebrities thinking that they can gag the media, he said.

"The judge has laid down markers for those things to be protected by a privacy law. But also he is saying that celebrities should not think they can come along and expect the court to help gag the media, or act as a spin doctor for what they do and do not want to allow into the press.

"But if you compare this ruling with the footballer decision there is some confusion about where we are.

"There is a world of difference between a 'kiss-and-tell' situation - where the right of the 'kiss-and-teller' to tell their story is weighed against the right of the celebrity to protect their privacy - and this ruling.

"The difference is that in Ms Campbell's case, the paper's information that she would be at the Narcotics Anonymous meeting came from a tip-off from a source.

"The editor of the Sunday People said his ruling proved we don't have a privacy law, but we do. And if newspapers thought, after that ruling, there was carte blanche to publish if it is the public interest, well, it is not as simple as that," said Mr Gilbert.

Two weeks' ago the court of appeal ruled that a judge had been wrong to ban the People from publishing interviews with two women who had affairs with a married Premiership footballer .

The millionaire player was ruled to be a public figure who had no right to block a newspaper's publication of "kiss-and-tell" stories about his infidelities.

Lord Woolf, the lord chief justice, said: "Ignoring, as one must, the literary quality of what it was proposed to publish, it is not self-evident that how a well-known premiership football player... chooses to spend his time off the football field does not have a modicum of public interest.

"Footballers are role models for young people and undesirable behaviour on their part can set an unfortunate example."

The footballer was "inevitably a figure in whom a section of the public and the media would be interested".


Julia Day

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Campbell wins privacy ruling

3pm: Naomi Campbell has managed to avoid another damaging court battle, this time over a story in the News of the World. By Julia Day.

Julia Day

14, Mar, 2002 @3:57 PM

Article image
Campbell loses aggravated damages

Judges at the court of appeal have overturned an award of £1,000 in damages given to Naomi Campbell after she was branded a 'chocolate soldier' by Daily Mirror columnist Sue Carroll. By Dan Milmo.

Dan Milmo

14, Oct, 2002 @5:13 PM

Article image
'Campbell waived her rights'

5.30pm update: Naomi Campbell waived her right to keep her medical details private, the editor of the Mirror claimed today. By Jessica Hodgson.

Jessica Hodgson

12, Feb, 2002 @6:12 PM

Article image
Campbell privacy case thrown out

3.15pm: Naomi Campbell was today facing a £750,000 legal bill after the Daily Mirror won its appeal against a high court ruling over reports about the model's drug addiction, write Claire Cozens and Dan Milmo.

Claire Cozens and Dan Milmo

14, Oct, 2002 @4:14 PM

Article image
What Naomi Campbell said

Naomi Campbell today branded as "harsh" the appeal court's decision to back the Daily Mirror's report of her drugs counselling.

Dan Milmo

14, Oct, 2002 @3:47 PM

Article image
Mirror lawyer brands Campbell a liar

5.15pm update: Naomi Campbell has lied consistently about her drug problem, the high court heard today. By Claire Cozens.

Claire Cozens

13, Feb, 2002 @5:23 PM

Campbell 'a schemer who forfeited privacy'

The supermodel Naomi Campbell had 'schemed and manipulated her public reputation' and must now 'face the consequences', the high court heard yesterday. By Sarah Hall.

Sarah Hall

15, Feb, 2002 @7:26 AM

Article image
Campbell wins privacy case against Mirror

10.15am: Supermodel Naomi Campbell has won a landmark privacy court case against the Mirror. The ruling has shocked the newspaper, which fears it could establish a privacy law by stealth. By Lisa O'Carroll.

Lisa O'Carroll

27, Mar, 2002 @10:59 AM

Mirror wins right to Campbell appeal

5.45pm: The Daily Mirror has been given leave to appeal the ruling in the Naomi Campbell case, writes Jessica Hodgson.

Jessica Hodgson

02, May, 2002 @4:38 PM

Legal landmark as Naomi Campbell wins privacy case

The supermodel Naomi Campbell scored an important high court victory yesterday, confirming that even the most publicity-driven celebrities now have the right to keep some parts of their lives private.

Sarah Hall and Clare Dyer

28, Mar, 2002 @7:52 AM