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Is Your Privacy Being Violated? A Specialist Lawyer Knows What to Do

The law of privacy is developing apace and, with the right legal advice, you can now effectively block unreasonable intrusions into your personal life. In one case exactly on point, the High Court came to the aid of a wealthy businessman who reaped a whirlwind after embarking on an extra-marital affair.

The man was encountering difficulties in his marriage when he became infatuated with a woman with whom he conducted a two-year affair. Following the end of their relationship, she twice falsely claimed that he had made her pregnant and that he had given her a sexually transmitted disease. She made repeated demands for money and he paid her sums running well into six figures.

The man’s lawyers argued that the woman had engaged in a relentless campaign of harassment. Amongst other things, she had threatened to disclose details of the relationship to his work colleagues and to ‘go to the tabloids’ unless he paid her £3 million in what she described as maintenance.

In ruling on the man’s case, the Court noted that it is not necessarily unreasonable for a pregnant woman to pursue a father in search of decisions about what is to be done, and how it is to be paid for. The man could reasonably have expected to receive such communications as a consequence of having unprotected sex with the woman, however inconvenient that might be. The Court noted, however, that, when the woman did in fact become pregnant, both the date of conception and the identity of the father were unclear.

In upholding the man’s breach of privacy claim, the Court noted that the law regards sexual activity as a classic instance of information in respect of which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Information that the woman had disclosed, or threatened to disclose, to third parties amounted to no more than prurient gossip in which there was no legitimate public interest.

The Court was satisfied that she had several times extracted money from the man on a patently false basis and that her course of conduct had, in some instances, overstepped the mark into harassment. The man was awarded £5,000 in damages in respect of the infringements of his privacy and the Court issued an injunction that placed wide-ranging constraints on the woman’s future behaviour. No separate award was made for the proved instances of harassment.

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