Carina Trimingham, partner of Chris Huhne, is bringing a legal action against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, for its portrayal of her since the break up of Mr Huhne's 26-year marriage to Vicky Pryce. Mr Huhne, 57, left Ms Pryce in the summer of 2010 when it emerged that he had been having an affair with Ms Trimingham, his former press aide (inset), then 44.
Ms Trimingham separated from her female civil partner in 2009, and it is her sexuality that forms the basis of her case. She is suing for breach of privacy and harassment, arguing that in its reporting of Mr Huhne's affair and subsequent references, the Daily Mail – edited by Paul Dacre, who appears before Lord Leveson tomorrow – has repeatedly and unnecessarily referred to her sexuality.
Ms Trimingham has secured the services of Charlotte Harris of Mishcon de Reya, and barrister Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers. They cite the Mail's behaviour as a breach of her human rights. The paper, or its sister paper The Mail on Sunday, has referred to her as "Doc Marten-wearing" and "spiky-haired", which her lawyers say contributes to a taunting, cartoonish caricature.
Associated says the references to her former sexuality are appropriate because she is now in a relationship with an MP.
Ms Harris said yesterday: "In the context of Lord Leveson's inquiry, we need some sort of shared view of what is harassment and what is acceptable behaviour. I suspect the Daily Mail's ... view of harassment is rather different from that of the general public."