Garry Flitcroft, the captain of the Premiership side Blackburn Rovers, is named today as the footballer who fought a year-long court battle to prevent a Sunday newspaper revealing his adulterous affairs.
An injunction preventing newspapers from naming him expired at midnight after lawyers for the player failed in a last-ditch attempt to maintain his anonymity.
Flitcroft, 29, who is expected to play for his side today in a relegation dog fight against Leicester, has been fighting the legal action, which has cost him an estimated £200,000, since last April. The Court of Appeal quashed the ban earlier this month after Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, said that giving Flitcroft legal protection over his affairs was an "unjustified interference" with press freedom.
Lord Woolf laid down guidance for the first time for judges faced with a spate of applications by celebrities invoking privacy rights under the Human Rights Act, which came into force in October 2000.
The former England Under-21 player had admitted having affairs with a nursery teacher and lap dancer but succeeded in obtaining a gagging order on the Sunday People. Lawyers for the player, who is married with two children, were given three weeks to seek leave to appeal to the House of Lords before that deadline expired last night.
At a hearing before Lord Woolf on Thursday, Flitcroft's lawyers asked for the injunction to be extended but it emerged that he had told his wife, Karen, about his affairs. Lord Woolf said one of the main planks of his argument – that he wanted to protect his wife and children – was gone.
The court heard that other newspapers had approached Karen Flitcroft and that the only party to be disadvantaged by continuing the injunction would be the Sunday People.Reuse content