Celebs hold privacy trump card, says top media lawyer

Judges’ interpretation of the Human Rights Act has been tipped in favour of celebrities and politicians and against the press, according to a top media lawyer.

Andrew Caldecott QC said Article 8 of the Act, which guarantees right to privacy, is winning the legal battle against Article 10, which guarantees freedom of expression.

He said when the Act was brought into British Law in 1998, Article 8 was regarded as an equal partner to its ‘big brother”, Article 10, but that the legal picture had become much more clouded since then.

‘We were all told by the Law Lords that this was a straight-forward child with no behavioural problems at all. They said its relationship with its bigger brother wasn’t a problem: they have come to an easy and comprehensible arrangement with which everybody could be pleased,’he said.

‘[Their attitude was] ‘Everything turns on the facts – you know its privacy when you see it, what’s private is obvious, what’s freedom of expression is also obvious. The courts shouldn’t get involved in most cases, because it’s all clear’. But of course the situation isn’t straightforward at all.”

Caldecott concluded that that Article 8 ‘has the edge’over Article 10, and said ‘an extraordinary popular culture’in which celebrities can negotiate which parts of the lives are private was partly to blame.

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