Letter: Tabloids beware

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The Independent Culture
Sir: There is no right to privacy under English law. There is no law to protect the private lives of entertainers nor the past lives of figures now in the public eye.

Next year, however, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for a right to respect for private and family life becomes part of our domestic law under the Human Rights Act 1998. This is to some extent qualified by section 12 of the Act, which provides that in determining what is an invasion of privacy, the court must have particular regard to the right of freedom of expression (Article 10 of the Convention). Section 12 also provides, however, that the court must consider the extent to which it is, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published.

Is it in the public interest to learn of Lenny Henry's assignations in a hotel room or of Sophie Rhys-Jones's playful antics 10 years ago ? I think not, and welcome the changes that the new Act will bring.

Even if the News of the World were to make out a feeble case of public interest with regard to the Dallaglio revelations, the undercover means used to expose him have appalled most people. It is worth remembering that similar methods were used in an attempt to get Colin Stagg, suspected of murdering Rachel Nickell, to talk. The information obtained was held to be inadmissible in court. It is surely wrong that the tabloids can get away with a method of questioning in order to get a good story that is denied to our police when questioning murder suspects.


London SW13