A judge has made public his reasons for upholding a gagging order which granted anonymity to an actor who had sex with a prostitute whose clients allegedly included Wayne Rooney.
Mr Justice King continued the privacy injunction, originally granted to NEJ on April 9, at a hearing held behind closed doors four days later at London’s High Court.
But he varied its original terms to allow the media to say that NEJ was a “leading actor” and, if they wished, “a world famous celebrity”, as well as being married and a father.
In his judgment he said: “It seems to me that this is material to the public debate about the class of person who is seeking these injunctions and the status they are seeking to protect when preventing the publication of private sexual encounters.”
He said that it allowed the public to identify the class of person to whom NEJ did not belong – for example a politician or other holder of public office – and to enable them to understand what was not being restricted, such as publication of wrongdoing in public office.
No anonymity was sought from the judge by Helen Wood, the target of the injunction, which restrained her disclosing private information relating to sexual relationships between NEJ and any woman in Dublin in December 2009.
Ms Wood is the call girl who reportedly had sex with Rooney and another escort, Jennifer Thompson, before England’s World Cup campaign last summer.
The judge said that NEJ accepted that he had had sexual encounters with Ms Wood who had offered information to The Sun.
He was satisfied that NEJ was “likely to establish that he has a reasonable expectation that that which he does in his private life by way of sexual encounters, albeit with a prostitute, should be kept private”.
He said no-one had argued that there was any countervailing public interest in publishing NEJ’s identity or all the details of the sexual encounter.
Ruling that NEJ was entitled to the interim order “in principle”, he said: “This is not a case in which it has been submitted that because of any public stance taken by the applicant with regard to his marital status or with regard to issues of morality, that he should be exposed in the public interest as, for example, a hypocrite.”
But he accepted that there was a live public debate about the justification for the granting of such injunctions “which can have the effect of suppressing from public scrutiny the private conduct of public persons, which some might think offend notions of social morality according to one’s view of social morality”.