UK Supreme Court urged to uphold press ban on celebrity threesome story

Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:52am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Supreme Court was urged on Thursday to maintain a ban on the English press naming a celebrity who was involved in an extra-marital threesome, even though the details are easy to find online.

The case has stirred debate in Britain about whether injunctions, court orders banning publication of private information, still serve any practical purpose in the age of the Internet.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled that the ban should be lifted because the details of the story were now common knowledge, but the celebrity involved went to the Supreme Court to try and get that decision overturned.

Desmond Browne, the celebrity's lawyer, told five Supreme Court justices that they should keep the injunction in place to prevent a "storm of harassment" that the English media would inflict on his client's family if it were lifted.

Browne accused some newspapers of "whipping up public attention" on the case and ridiculing court rulings to put pressure on the judiciary to lift the ban.

Gavin Millar, the lawyer for the Sun on Sunday tabloid which originally obtained the threesome story in January, denied that the newspapers were to blame for raising public interest in it.

He told the court the story "took off" on the Internet on April 6, the day that it was published by a widely read U.S. magazine, before English newspapers had produced front pages lambasting the injunction.

Millar said the story had spread across England and beyond via social media and was now out in the real world, with people discussing it in pubs, cafes, and over garden fences.

"This is not something a court can prevent," he said.   Continued...

A general view shows the library of the United Kingdom's new Supreme Court building in Westminster, central London September 14, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning/File Photo