Outside glass view of RPC building.

Cabinet minister's 17-year-old son gets privacy injunction but not anonymity

15 February 2012. Published by Keith Mathieson, Partner

The son of Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, has obtained an injunction against the publishers of the Daily Star Sunday.

The judgment is reported here.  The injunction was granted to restrain publication of a story which it is alleged would have breached his right to privacy.  The application was made last Saturday 11 February to Mr Justice Lindblom.

The judgment does not of course contain any details of the allegedly private information.  The judge was satisfied Jonathan Spelman had a reasonable expectation of privacy and he rejected the newspaper's submission that this was a libel claim masquerading as a privacy claim such that injunctive relief would be inappropriate.  It is difficult to make much of the judge's analysis of the public interest considerations since the judgment is understandably opaque, but he expressed himself satisfied that "the defendant's publication of its story at this stage would not of itself advance the public interest claimed for it to a material degree".

Mr Spelman, through his parents as litigation friends, sought an order that his identity should be kept secret.  That application was rejected by reference to the Master of the Rolls Practice Guidance: Interim Non-Disclosure Orders.

The matter is scheduled to return to court tomorrow, 16 February.  The Daily Star's report of the "gagging order" is here.