First victory to ST in dispute with Harrods

By Roger Pearson

The Sunday Times has won a preliminary
victory in a pending High Court legal battle in which it is being sued
by Harrods for alleged breach of confidence.

The paper has been
given the right to seek further information relating to the way Harrods
treats its staff. Harrods had opposed the move.

The breach of
confidence action focuses on a piece carried in The Sunday Times that
contained allegations by a former, but un-named, Harrods director about
his time with the up-market store.

The Sunday Times is defending the action against it on the basis that its article was in the public interest.

Among
other things it accuses Harrods of projecting a false image to the
public in respect of the company’s approach to employees.

To back
up its argument the paper wants further information disclosed to it
relating to other senior staff who left the company after the article
at the centre of the case was published.

The paper’s bid for
further information has raised the question of whether, when a paper is
relying on a public interest defence, it is limited to relying on
information available at the time of publication or whether it is
entitled to rely on matters which have come to light later.

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