The July 2008 privacy victory for Max Mosley versus the News of the World appeared to spell the end of kiss and tell journalism.
But last weekend’s revelations about the extra-marital shenanigans of England footballer Wayne Rooney suggest that the privacy pendulum is swinging back in favour of the press.
The Rooney story followers a similar tale last month when the News of the World revealed that England player Peter Crouch had sex with a prostitute on a stag weekend.
Numerous sports stars currently have injunctions out preventing revelations about their private lives.
The Daily Telegraph today reports that three other England footballers have successfully obtained privacy gagging orders in recent weeks.
According to the Telegraph, Rooney considered applying for an injunction to stop yesterday’s revelations – but decided not to because he was advised such on order would fail because he has previously chosen to share intimate details of his life with the media.
The Rooneys sold the picture rights to their wedding for more than £3m, according to some reports, to OK! magazine in 2008.
The Max Mosley judgment had appeared to rule all sex-life revelations not involving criminality potentially offside, ruling as it did that the News of the World was wrong to expose the then Formula One chief’s extra-marital orgy with five paid dominatrices.
But the privacy balance shifted back in the media’s favour in January this year after the News of the World overturned an injunction brought by the England captain John Terry allowing it to reveal claims that he had been having an affair.
The judge in that case said the injunction should be dropped because Terry was more concerned about protecting his commercial interests than his family’s feelings – and because, in any case, many people involved in professional football already knew about the allegations.
It is clear that the Rooneys derive considerable ‘brand’ benefits from their marriage, so could have faced a similar issue.
Meanwhile, exposing the extra-marital activities of MPs appears to continue to be fair game privacy-wise.
The Sunday Mirror bagged on old-fashioned Tory sex scandal when it revealed yesterday that the wife of Conservative MP Mike Weatherley was a “£70-a-night” prostitute.