The High Court in England has thrown out what might go down in history as the most desperate and debauched damages claim ever to engage that court’s attention. The claim – heard by Mr Justice Tugendhat in a London Court last month – was made by Manchester United and Wales footballer Ryan Giggs [Unlink]
against Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper. Counsel for Giggs, Hugh Tomlinson QC , claimed that The Sun “’misused” private information and argued that Giggs “was entitled to claim damages for distress and breach of a right to privacy enshrined in human rights legislation”, according to the Press Association. Responding The Sun argued that the footballer’s claim – arising from its publication of an article about Giggs’ alleged sexual congress with reality television star Imogen Thomas [Unlink]
– is “dead in the water” and should be stopped. We might speculate that if Sun representative Richard Spearman QC had argued that Giggs’ claim was “dung in the water” and should be flushed, Mr Justice Tugendhat might have given the same judgement today. This purely speculative and arguably inconsequential question turns, we may suppose, on Mr. Spearman’s need (or not) in every instance to satisfy the rigorous legal labelling requirements of jurisprudence. The decorum or propriety of going with “dead” over “dung” may also be a consideration. Beyond question though, in Mr. Justice Tughendat’s mind, apparently, is the expiration of any legal sustenance or nutritional value Giggs’ claim may have had. In this writer’s mind and conceivably in the collective conscious space that is public opinion, the lack of logic or morality in Giggs’ attempt to assign responsibility to the Sun for the “large media storm” that was supposedly generated by its article about his affair with Ms. Thomas – in which he was not named – is patent. Only in Giggs mind, perhaps (one would like to think that Mr. Tomlinson and his other legal advisors tried to talk him out of the action), could the fact that his name recognition
(alluded to but protected by the Sun) was the indisputable catalyst for the fevered response to the article in Britain and around the world be overlooked. As Mr. Spearman said, the Sun reported on “Ms Thomas's relationship with a Premier League player and did not identify Giggs.” The Sun behaved "properly", he said and “was not responsible for what happened after the article appeared.” Only the famous footballer family man, perhaps, could convince himself that the European Convention on Human Rights’ provision of “effective protection" for his right to privacy should trump the Sun’s right to freely report the news and Imogen Thomas’ freedom of conscience. Mr. Giggs is probably best advised to reconcile himself to the beauty and terror of being famous. In a written judgement today, Mr Justice Tugendhat refused “to grant relief” to Giggs. Such relief as Mr. Giggs is likely to receive or achieve will probably come through his own inward, private digestion and reconciliation of fame’s potential profit and loss. It probably will not come from further parading the spectacle of his infidelity through the law courts.
(Writer's note: this story was originally etitled "Ryan Giggs' sh_t suit flushed" but I decided to err on the side of cauti of caution: wouldn't want it to be "flagged" and flushed.