Chief Executive of Ann Summers gets privacy injunction

17 February 2012

Mr Justice Tugendhat has today handed down a short judgment explaining why he made an interlocutory order to prevent the publication of private and confidential information about Jacqueline Gold, the high-profile Chief Executive of Ann Summers.

The first defendant in the application was Allison Cox, Gold's former nanny who was convicted in March 2011 of attempting to poison her (she was released from prison in June 2011). The second defendant was Leanne Bingham, a friend of Ms Cox who had also worked for Ms Gold and Ann Summers. The application was made following Ms Gold's discovery that Ms Bingham was seeking to publish a book "based on her time working for Ann Summers and the events surrounding the very public court case" which resulted in Ms Cox's conviction.

Ms Cox consented to the order and told the court that the book being prepared by Ms Bingham had nothing to do with her. Ms Bingham however refused to give her consent to the order on the basis that "she feels entitled to express her views and observations over the events of the last two years".

While Ms Bingham had not signed a written confidentiality agreement with either Ms Gold or Ann Summers during her employment, the judge decided that "there is a strongly arguable case that she is mistaken in her view that she is not legally bound by any confidentiality agreement... an obligation of confidentiality may exist independently of an express or implied agreement". The judge concluded that, on the basis of what Ms Bingham had stated in a letter to the Court, "there is a real risk that she will breach a duty of confidentiality owed to the claimants unless restrained by an order of the court".

The order has been granted on an interlocutory basis at this stage as Ms Bingham is currently in Thailand and requested an adjournment until her return. A further hearing is expected on 22 February.

One notable point from the case is the steps taken by the Judge to ensure proceedings were as open as possible: "The proceedings before me were heard in public. I made only the most limited derogation from open justice in the form of provisions protecting those parts of the evidence which relate specifically to the private information of the first claimant." In other words, he made sure he followed his own guidelines in JIH.

Full text of the judgment is available here.

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