Carina Trimingham has withdrawn the appeal in her harassment and privacy claim against the publisher of the Daily Mail. This was a matter of principle; brought because Carina and her legal team are convinced that the way the Daily Mail wrote about her, and in particular referred to her looks and her sexuality, was simply not acceptable.
Ms Trimingham made it clear that she had pursued this matter as far as she possibly could, but was not able to convince the Daily Mail to apologise for the hurt and distress they had caused her. The appeal was withdrawn because it was no longer feasible for her to continue to fight a wealthy media company and to take the case to the Court of Appeal. The appeal was dismissed with no order for costs.
The appeal was against a ruling by Mr Justice Tugendhat ( EWHC 1296 (QB)) dismissing her claim for misuse of private information and harassment against Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the Daily Mail. The Court of Appeal granted Ms Trimingham permission to appeal in September 2012 (see the Inforrm post) and the appeal was due to be heard on 12 or 13 March 2013. It was dismissed by an order made on 18 February 2013.
As Eloise le Santo pointed out in a post in last month, the appeal raised important questions about Leveson and press harassment. In granting permission to appeal on all grounds, Lord Justice Laws had noted that this was the first trial in England and Wales of a civil claim for harassment against a newspaper.
It had been argued on behalf of Ms Trimingham that the appeal had wider implications for journalists who wish to refer repeatedly, or in negative contexts, to a person’s characteristics, such as their sexuality or race, as well as those who are the subjects of such reporting. The appeal in relation to the privacy claim involved an analysis of what circumstances make an individual a public person as oppose to a private person. Ms Trimingham’s case was that she was a private individual albeit that she was in a relationship with Mr Huhne, who was a public person. Her lawyers had argued that the case would
“ have significant ramifications as more and more people nowadays find themselves in the ‘public eye’. In his report Lord Justice Leveson urges the new press regulator to ‘equip itself to deal with complaints alleging discrimination’. He criticises the media’s representation of women and minorities and refers to prejudicial and pejorative references including of sexual orientation. This appeal will analyse this point in depth and be important both in terms of the implications for publishers and could well provide guidance on how a new Code could be drafted.”
Now that the appeal has been withdrawn the examination of these important issues by the Court of Appeal will not now take place.