Belgravia benefits mum fails in bid to silence Sunday Times

A mother of six on benefits who was reported to be asking that she be rehoused in an exclusive London area failed in a bid to gag The Sunday Times.

Stephanie Demouh was reported to be bidding to move back to Belgravia (pictured) so her children could attend an “elite” school nearby. She had been forced to leave her £2m home because of the recent cap on housing benefit.

Her story was first reported in The Sunday Times on 17 March and also featured in a number of other papers.

In a High Court claim form, dated 13 March, Demouh asked for an injunction to prevent the paper from “publishing articles about my family’s private life without my consent, to get them to respect our human rights and our right to privacy”.

The injunction was aimed primarily at Sunday Times journalist Nicholas Hellen, who Demouh said first approached her on 7 March asking her to feature in an article about welfare cuts.

Demouh said she was not interested but claims Hellen told her his editor had decided to publish the story without consent.

She then complained to the Press Complaints Commission saying the article would breach her privacy and that Hellen’s information was inaccurate. The Sunday Times then agreed to delay publication until Sunday 17 March.

Demouh suggested Hellen’s information could only have been obtained from a Westminster Council source, adding: “I believe that the councillors have no right to talk to journalists or the public about my private life”.

She said the newspaper should be prevented from publishing her name, personal finance details, address, and anything that would identify her or her family.

Sunday Times executive editor Bob Tyrer told Press Gazette the paper had gone ahead with the story because it was in the public interest.

He said: “This case demonstrates how important it is that nothing in the post-Leveson regulatory regime makes it easier to keep public interest stories out of the public domain.”

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