TV star wins gagging order over phone sex story

A TV personality and his wife have won a High Court order preventing a woman with whom he had “telephone sex” from telling her story in a newspaper.

Justice Eady said the couple, who can only be identified as CDE and FGH, had always guarded their private lives closely, had never sought publicity and had teenage children whose interests they were concerned to safeguard.

“The application is intended to protect them all, so far as possible, against the inevitable intrusion a newspaper publication would make into their private and family lives,” said the judge in a ruling made public yesterday.

The woman – LMN – was a single mother in receipt of disability benefit who had suffered from time to time with mental health problems, he added.

She had only ever met CDE face to face twice, in April 2009, when he made brief visits to her home.

“She nevertheless conducted a kind of quasi-relationship with him ‘on and off’ between about March 2009 and February 2010 by means of telephone, texts, emails and tweets.

“Intimate and personal thoughts were exchanged and there was also a good deal of flirtation and sexual innuendo,” said the judge.

LMN now wished to sell her story of their “virtual” relationship to the Sunday Mirror, although it was said on her behalf that she was not motivated by money.

The judge said it was hardly an exaggeration that the lives of CDE and his family would be “wrecked” for a significant time by publication and FGH, who had lost a stone in weight, had asked for the opportunity to rebuild their marriage in private.

The court heard she had “left” her husband for a few days in April 2009, in what had been described as a marital “blip” which was so fleeting that their children were not aware of it.

He added that there was also little doubt that the coverage would bring “bewilderment and distress” to the family of LMN, who had two daughters.

She had not originally wanted to publish her story, asserting that it was her “worst nightmare” as she was not the “kiss and tell” type and feared she would look like a “marriage wrecker”.

It seemed she changed her mind through being persuaded by the newspaper and its lawyers that the story would get out in the public domain even if she withheld her co-operation.

Balancing the competing rights of the couple against MGN Ltd and LMN, the judge rejected the argument that CDE had been exploiting a vulnerable woman for his own “gratification” and that this deserved public exposure and condemnation.

It was clear that LMN enjoyed “sexually explicit and provocative” exchanges not only with CDE but others on the internet generally – what counsel called “telephone sex”.

LMN herself had described her Twitter account as “looking like a celeb stalkers function room”.

“This does not appear to be consistent with ‘victim’ status,” said the judge, adding that there was no evidence which pointed clearly to exploitation.

He said the individuals concerned should be anonymised as to identify them would entirely defeat the court’s purpose in granting the injunction.

“It is necessary and proportionate to withhold their identities to ensure, so far as possible, that the information to which rights of privacy are said to attach should not be revealed pending trial. Otherwise a trial would serve no purpose.”

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