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Beckham v Mirror Group News Ltd [2001] All ER (D) 307

Interim injunction granted regarding publication of photographs of celebrity home


David and Victoria Beckham invoked s12 Human Rights Act 1998 to seek an interim injunction to prevent the publication of unauthorised photographs of their newly purchased house.


The claimants were subject to considerable media interest and sought the injunction due to concerns over security and because the photographs constituted an invasion of privacy. They were granted an interim injunction. The defendants applied for variation of the injunction to provide them with a cross undertaking that if and when the claimants should consent to publication in the future, it would be given advance notice of that fact.


The defendant’s application to vary the injunction was refused by the Court. Such a cross undertaking places a wholly unrealistic restriction on the claimants’ freedom of action and freedom of choice with regard to any future compromise of their privacy. The Court referred to s12(4)(a)(i) Human Rights Act 1998 which required it to consider the importance of the defendant’s freedom of expression and, in particular, journalistic material which was, or was about to become, available to the public. However, the defendant could not rely on this section in the circumstances given that their desire to vary the injunction by way of a cross-undertaking was a method for the defendant to obtain a commercial advantage regarding future publication of the photographs. The circumstances of the claimants were contrasted with those of the claimants in Douglas v Hello! Ltd (No. 1) [2001] Q.B. 967 where the claimants had gained a commercial advantage by selling their privacy rights to OK! magazine and their wedding could therefore in no way be considered a private affair.

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