Newspaper challenges court injunction against story on Royal Family

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The Independent Online

A High Court challenge will be made today to overturn a court order preventing a newspaper from revealing the identity of a former royal servant.

The Mail on Sunday and The Guardian were issued with injunctions preventing them from naming the former royal employee in articles due to be published in the previous three days. The Guardian was granted permission yesterday to challenge the injunction in a High Court hearing.

The first court order was issued on Saturday against The Mail on Sunday to block the publication of a story believed to involve the Royal Family. On Sunday, The Mail on Sunday ran a story on its front page stating that a former servant from Buckingham Palace had taken legal action against it. The report came after lengthy interviews conducted by the newspaper with a second former royal servant whose story was supported by a sworn affidavit, it said.

The Mail on Sunday vowed to return to the High Court to fight the injunction, which was issued after a three-hour hearing. Then, the judge made an order preventing publication of any details of the story.

This was followed by a written demand from a senior member of the Royal Family that there should be no publication of the story, according to The Mail on Sunday.

The Guardian received an injunction preventing identification on Monday evening, following a successful application from counsel instructed by the London-based solicitors Kingsley Napley.

A spokesman for the solicitors said the order was "restraining publication of the name of the former royal servant who was granted an injunction against Associated Newspapers Ltd by [Mr Justice] McKinnon on Saturday November 1, 2003".

A spokeswoman for The Guardian said: "We confirm that an injunction was taken out against GNL [Guardian Newspapers Ltd] naming a former royal servant who also took out an injunction against The Mail on Sunday this weekend."

The issuing of two injunctions in a three-day period marks a significant escalation in litigation on royal matters. It is rare for a court to grant injunctions before a story is published on the grounds of libel because the line between censorship and protection can become blurred. Instead, a newspaper that is prepared to justify what it plans to publish in court is generally allowed to go ahead with its stories.

The Guardian had been planning to name the former royal aide in an article to be published yesterday.