John Terry named as court gag lifted

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Footballer John Terry can be named today as the sportsman behind a gagging injunction involving his private life.

His identity was revealed after Mr Justice Tugendhat gave his reasons at London's High Court for lifting the order which he originally granted at a private hearing last Friday.

It covered the alleged relationship between LNS - as married Terry was referred to in court - and another woman, details about it, including certain specific consequences, information leading to their identification and any photographs.

The judge, who heard that News Group Newspapers wanted to publish a story about the footballer last Sunday, said: "I accept that the information sought to be protected is not in the public domain in the sense that there is nothing left to be protected.

"But the evidence is that there has been wide circulation amongst those involved in the sport in question, including agents and others, and not just amongst those directly engaged in the sport."

Because the information had become so widely available to so many people, it meant that an injunction was less necessary or proportionate than would otherwise be the case.

"Further, if - as I think likely - the real concern of the applicant in this case is the effect of publication upon the sponsorship business, then damages would be an adequate remedy if LNS succeeds at trial," the judge said.

Terry, who is expected to captain England at the World Cup finals this summer, is married to childhood sweetheart Toni and is the father of twins.

He was named Dad of the Year last year in a Daddies Sauce survey.

In his anonymised judgment, which does not name the woman, Mr Justice Tugendhat said that LNS (Terry) accepted the truth of certain information covered by the order.

"I do not know whether or not LNS considers that those matters were acceptable for a person in LNS's position in life."

He said that the woman was also a "famous person" but not in the world of sport and not as famous as LNS, who had a number of high-profile sponsorship deals including three very well-known brand names.

He said that LNS wanted the court to consider the privacy rights of the woman and other interested individuals, and had said that he had not told one of the interested persons about the relationship.

"That is not the same as saying that person does not know about it.

"I do not find it credible that rumours that have circulated as widely as the rumours in this case are said to have circulated have not yet reached the ears of at least the first interested person.

"If they have not yet got that far, they surely will do very soon."

The judge said that it was likely that the nub of LNS's complaint was the protection of reputation, and not of any other aspect of his private life.

In the evidence, there was no mention of any personal distress on his part.

"As to personal attributes, LNS appears to have a very robust personality, as one might expect of a leading professional sportsman.

"It does not seem likely to me that the concern expressed on LNS's behalf for the private lives of the other person and the interested persons is altruistic.

"This claim is essentially a business matter for LNS."

He commented: "Freedom to live as one chooses is one of the most valuable freedoms.

"But so is the freedom to criticise - within the limits of the law - the conduct of other members of society as being socially harmful, or wrong."

The judge said that notice had not been given to any newspaper about LNS's intention to seek an injunction against "persons unknown" last Friday, and it should have been.

He concluded: "The contents of this judgment should not pre-empt the publication by any newspaper, if that is what any newspaper decides now to do.

"Nor should this judgment, by placing information in the public domain, undermine any remedy in damages LNS, or anyone else, may ultimately be found to have against any publisher in respect of matters that may be published about the events to which this judgment relates."