Former newsreader Anna Ford’s solicitors have served notice on the Press Complaints Commission that they have applied for a judicial review of its decision not to uphold her complaint against the Daily Mail and OK! magazine for invading her privacy – even though the application is out of time.
The PCC made its ruling on 7 December. Normally any application for a review would have had to be in by 7 March.
Ford was pictured on a beach in Majorca with her new partner, former astronaut David Scott. She believed the beach to have been private – which it was not – and that she would be protected by the Editors’ Code of Practice clause on reasonable expectation of privacy.
The PCC said that, while it had a degree of sympathy for the complainants, the photographs were innocuous and of the sort regularly taken of well-known people in public places.
"They neither intruded into their privacy nor left the complainants open to ridicule," decided the Commission.
Stephen Grosz, a partner in Bindmans, Ford’s solicitors, told Press Gazette: "The court has got the discretion to let in applications after the three-month period."
Notice of the application for the late hearing was served on the PCC, the Daily Mail and OK! on Monday and they have 21 days in which to acknowledge service of the claim and to put in any defence. The solicitors are basing their claim for the right to a late hearing on the fact that, although the Commission ruled on 7 December, its ruling was not published until late January.
Then, said Grosz, a judge would look at the application.
The PCC has faced a judicial review once before, from Moors murderer Ian Brady. The Appeal Court threw out his bid saying the Commision’s decision had been the right one .
There has been no legal argument to date over whether PCC rulings should be subject to judicial review.
Commission director Guy Black told Press Gazette: "If they get leave, as in the Brady case, we will fight on the merits of our decision."
by Jean Morgan