Independent loses appeal over order banning it from disclosing legal documents in bitter divorce case

The Court of Appeal has ordered the Independent to return privileged legal documents that were disclosed to it by one of the parties in a “exceptionally acrimonious” divorce.

Publisher Independent Print Ltd  was appealing against a judgment handed down by the High Court in December 2015.

The Appeal Court has confirmed Sir Michael Tugendhat’s decision that the documents be returned, all copies destroyed and The Independent be restrained from disclosing or using any of the information in them.

The divorced couple are French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux and former wife Afsana.

The dispute centred around custody of their seven-year-old son and over issues around separate divorce settlements granted in Dubai and London.

The Court of Appeal said that various news articles had appeared about the marital dispute and “to a considerable extent these articles were based on information and allegations supplied to the media by Afsana”.

The articles based on the documents in question appeared in print editions of the Independent, i, online and in the Evening Standard in 2014.

According to separate libel proceedings filed by Lachaux the articles carried the meaning that

“the claimant had become violent towards Afsana, causing her to fear for her safety and go on the run with her child;

“without justification the claimant had snatched the child back from his mother’s arms and never returned him;

“the claimant had falsely accused Afsana of kidnapping their son, a false charge wich could result in her, unfairly and wrongly, spending time in a Dubai jail;

“the claimant had been content to use Emirati law and its law enforcement system, which discriminates against women, in order to deprive Afsana of custody of and access to their son Louis;

“the claimant had been violent, abusive and controlling and caused Afsana to fear for her own safety;

“the claimant had obtained custody of Louis on a false basis and had initiated a prosecution of Afsana in the UAE founded upon a false allegation of abduction.”

The Appeal Court ruled that there can be “no doubt” the documents in question were subject to legal privilege and confidential.

It rejected The Independent’s contention that the documents showed that Lachaux had given a false witness statement.

Read the Bruno Lachaux versus Independent Print legal Court of Appeal judgment in full.

 

 

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