Andy McSmith: Judge has not changed views on privacy

Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Eady shot to unwanted fame as the judge in the case of Max Mosley v The News of the World, in which he ruled that Mr Mosley had a right to privacy even though he engaged in masochistic sexual acts with five women. This prompted a famous attack from the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, who accused the judge of introducing a privacy law "by the back door" and of being "amoral" in his attitude to sex.

It might seem in the light of the judgement published yesterday that the 68-year-old judge has finally changed his spots – but actually, this is consistent with his previous rulings. What he emphatically did not say was that any man who secretly has a second family is fair game. If that is all that The Sun had known about Chris Hutcheson, the judge would have used the law to protect his privacy. But there are two elements here that were not found in the Mosley case. There is the allegation – true or false – that Mr Hutcheson misused company money to fund his secret family. Mr Eady rightly ruled that if Mr Hutcheson disputes that allegation, he can sue for libel.

A more general lesson that the rich and prominent should draw from this judgement is that if you want your private affairs to stay private, do not get into a highly personal and very public slanging match with a member of your family.