Wednesday, 15 December 2010



The UK has no written constitutions but the nearest thing to one is the Human Rights Act passed in 1998. Section 8 of the Human Rights act states that everyone has a right to privacy and the right to enjoy a private family life. This means that when a journalist reports on an individual, there are certain hurdles they face.

A person needs to give consent to have their photograph taken unless they are engaging in a public duty. The two types of consent are; explicet consent which is all very official with a signed contract or such and implied consent when the individual is posing in the photo or it is clear they had no objections to being photographed.

Other main areas a journalist should beware of is; revealing state secrets or ‘official’ secrets, revealing commercial secrets or revealing facts about a person they would have expected to remain private.

McNae's states that traditionally there are three elements that work towards a breach of confidence. Namely;

  • Information obtained must have a 'necessary quality of confidence'. Information CAN be freely used if it is within the public domain BUT if it is obtained in a way that breaches confidence of a person or organisation then it cannot be used
  • If there is an obligation to keep the information private then you cannot use it freely
  • There must be an unauthorised use of the information to the detriment of the part communicating it. The person who the confidence is being breached must not suffer in any form of detriment as a direct result.
For a claimant to successfully prove a breach of confidentiality has been made they must prove every one of these points.

One big case which reflects privacy and confidentiality is the Max Mosely case from 2008. Max Mosely was the head of Formula 1 racing and was caught to have hired five prostitutes for a Nazi based orgy in London by the News Of The World but the High Court ruled that this was not within the public interest and that Mosely had a right of provacy and so damanges had to be awarded.

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