High Court continues interim injunction pending trial to prevent publication of Pippa Middleton’s photographs.

On 24 September 2016, the claimant, Pippa Middleton, applied for, and was granted, an interim injunction pending trial preventing publication of photographs that Ms Middleton said had been downloaded from her iCloud account.

Ms Middleton then sought a continuation of the interim injunction.  She also sought to broaden its terms to encompass, in addition to photographs, “any other information” from her iCloud account.

Mrs Justice Whipple said that the evidence made clear that the photos in question included photographs of family, friends and places of personal importance to Ms Middleton.  They had been offered for sale to the national press, but it was not known by whom.  Ms Middleton had not given permission for the photographs, or any other material stored in her iCloud account, to be accessed in this way, disseminated, published, or sold.

Examining the evidence, Whipple J was satisfied that Ms Middleton was likely to establish at trial that publication should not be allowed.  It appeared that the information in question had been obtained by hacking into Ms Middleton’s iCloud account, which was a criminal act.  On any view, Whipple J said, “it is an appalling intrusion into the Claimants’ private life” and any use by publication or sale of the information would be misuse of private information.  The statutory criterion under s 12(3) of the Human Rights Act 1998 had therefore been met.

Whipple J also took into account the factors set out in s 12(4) and considered whether the defendant(s) would contend that the information in question had some journalistic value to be protected by Article 10 ECHR.  However, she found that the information did not have any genuine public interest attached to it and, further, that none of the information was already available to the public or about to become available to the public.  In addition, under the Editors’ Code of Practice: “Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications”.

In Whipple J’s view, therefore, any argument to the effect that Article 10 would be infringed by her order would be “very weak”.  By contrast, Ms Middleton’s arguments that her rights to private life under Article 8 would be infringed if she did not make the order were “very strong”.  The balance at this stage clearly favoured Ms Middleton, Whipple J said.

Whipple J therefore made the order in the terms sought, i.e. to cover all material and information held in Ms Middleton’s iCloud account.  (Pippa Middleton v Person Unknown or Persons Unknown [2016] EWHC 2354 (QB) (28 September 2016) — to read the judgment in full, click here).