Lord Wakeham, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, described a judge's ruling that a newspaper could not report a married footballer's alleged infidelities as "an attack on press freedom, unprecedented in modern times".
The Sunday People has revealed that it had been banned from publishing details of the footballer's private life.
A High Court judge ruled that the article – due to be published in April this year – infringed the Human Rights Act and decided sexual relationships were confidential in law.
But the Sunday People published the report about the alleged affairs, although it did not reveal the names of those supposedly involved. The newspaper will also appeal against the court decision. Neil Wallis, the editor, described the ruling as "disgraceful" and said it was a threat "to all our freedom".
Lord Wakeham said: "For more than 300 years the courts have recognised freedom of expression and the free press that goes with it are vital to our democracy."
Lord Wakeham told the BBC1 Breakfast with Frost programme that the legal ruling was "an attack on press freedom which is really unprecedented in modern times ... I have every expectation it will eventually be overthrown by the Court of Appeal."
David Mellor, the former MP, who is a columnist on the Sunday People, also criticised the court ruling and said he was rightfully exposed by the press for infidelity when serving as a Tory minister.Reuse content