Baroness Lawrence & Ors privacy claim against Mail publisher can continue, judge rules

Misuse of private information actions brought by seven claimants against the publisher of the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday can proceed to trial, the High Court has ruled.

The seven claimants bringing proceedings against Associated Newspapers Limited are Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE; Elizabeth Hurley; Sir Elton John CH CBE; David Furnish; Sir Simon Hughes; Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Sadie Frost Law.

At a hearing in March, the High Court heard applications by Associated seeking summary judgment on the claimants’ claims on the grounds that they were time-barred, and to strike out parts of the Particulars of Claim which had relied upon certain documents from the Leveson Inquiry in breach of restrictions as to their use.

In a judgment handed down this morning, Nicklin J dismissed Associated’s application on limitation, concluding that Associated had not been able to deliver a ‘knockout blow’ and that the rival contentions will require investigation of the evidence at trial.

Associated’s restriction order application succeeded on the grounds that documents were used by the claimants in breach of a restriction order imposed by Leveson LJ. In consequence, the Judge found, by analogy with restrictions that are placed on further use of documents that have been disclosed in litigation, that the Court could not permit the claimants to use information derived from the documents in their claim without a variation by the Minster responsible for the Inquiry. 

In a notable point for public inquiry lawyers, the judge held that the undertaking given by all core participants at the Leveson Inquiry came to an end at the conclusion of the Inquiry and the imposition of the final restriction order transferred the restriction that had until that point been imposed by the undertaking to the restriction order.

Sarah Palin and Claire Overman act as junior counsel for Associated Newspapers, instructed by Baker McKenzie.