Press freedom: 1, multimillionaire footballer's fight for privacy: 0

Ferdinand loses out in kiss-and-tell ruling

England and Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand has failed in his bid to prevent the media reporting that he had a 13-year relationship with an interior designer.

A High Court judge ruled that while the designer's motives may have been "less than noble" he was satisfied there was a public interest in the publication of the "kiss and tell" story.

Mr Ferdinand had sought £50,000 damages following the publication of a story under the headline, "My affair with England captain Rio". He had argued it was a "gross invasion" of his privacy and demanded the court impose a worldwide gagging order on the designer and the media to prevent them repeating the claims.

But Mr Justice Nicol ruled in favour of the Sunday Mirror, which had published the report on 25 April 2010, on the grounds that there was a public interest in the behaviour of England football captains. The footballer now faces a legal bill of £500,000 – or less than five weeks' pay.

The article claimed that Mr Ferdinand, who has a wife and three children, ended his relationship with Carly Storey within days of being appointed England captain in February 2010. Ms Storey, portrayed in the paper as the footballer's "dirty little secret" for 13 years, had been paid £16,000 by the paper for her version of events.

"Overall, in my judgment, the balancing exercise favours the defendant's right of freedom of expression over the claimant's right of privacy," said the judge. "At one level it was a 'kiss and tell' story. Even less attractively, it was a 'kiss and paid for telling' story, but stories may be in the public interest even if the reasons behind the informant providing the information are less than noble."

Of the captaincy he said: "It was a job that carried with it an expectation of high standards. In the views of many, the captain was expected to maintain those standards off, as well as on, the pitch."

Mr Justice Nicol added in his ruling: "During the course of the hearing I asked the parties whether it was incumbent on me to decide whether the claimant was fit to be England captain. Thankfully, they agreed that it was not. The issue is rather whether the defendant's article reasonably contributed to the debate as to his suitability for that role."

During the trial the judge was presented with a list of ten women with whom the footballer was said to have had affairs, and the Sunday Mirror argued that the footballer was less concerned about his privacy than protecting his public image.

Tina Weaver, the editor of the Sunday Mirror, welcomed the judge's ruling and said in a statement: "The judge found that there was a justified public interest in reporting the off-pitch behaviour of the then England captain and discussion of his suitability for such an important and ambassadorial role representing the country.

"We are pleased the judge ruled that Mr Ferdinand had perpetuated a misleading public image and the Sunday Mirror was entitled to correct this impression. There has never been greater scrutiny of the media than now, and we applaud this ruling in recognising the important role a free press has to play in a democratic society." Mr Ferdinand was refused leave to appeal but it is an option still open to him.

The law firm Simons Muirhead & Burton said on the footballer's behalf that he intends to do so. They also said in a statement that they thought the judge had got the law wrong: "We are extremely disappointed with the court's decision and do not believe that it represents the law as it stands. It is our view that these are clearly private matters that ought never to have been published."

peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits