Blair 'go-between' loses bid to gag press

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The Independent Online

Martha Greene, the restaurateur, failed yesterday in her renewed attempt to block a newspaper article about her alleged business relationship with the fraudster Peter Foster.

The 48-year-old New Yorker, who runs London's Villandry restaurant and Foodstore, had appealed against a High Court judge's refusal last month to grant an injunction against The Mail on Sunday. Mr Justice Fairford did agree to grant a temporary injunction pending the Court of Appeal hearing.

Yesterday, Lord Justice Brooke, sitting with Lord Justice May and Lord Justice Dyson, said: "In this country we have a free press. Our press is free to get things right and it is free to get things wrong. It is free to write after the manner of Milton, and it is free to write in a manner that would make Milton turn in his grave."

He said that in 1769, the commentator Sir William Blackstone wrote that the liberty of the press was essential in a free state and consisted in laying no prior restraints on publication. It was that freedom which was under challenge in the appeal.

The case stemmed from a Mail on Sunday story which said that Ms Greene was at the centre of Tony Blair's recent £3.6m house deal and was a "former business contact of convicted fraudster Peter Foster".

Ms Greene's lawyers complained to the newspaper that the piece was "littered with inaccuracies" and was unnecessarily intrusive about her personal relationships, her membership of Alcoholics Anonymous and her treatment for breast cancer.Their main complaint was about its attempts to link Miss Greene to Foster.

* The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint by Kimberley Fortier, the publisher of The Spectator, that the publication by the Sunday Mirror in August of a picture of her constituted a breach of her privacy.