Media set 5RB picked up roles on both sides of a Court of Appeal (CoA) battle over whether it was a matter if public interest that Boris Johnson MP, Mayor of London, had a daughter with a former mistress.
5RB’s James Price QC was instructed by Collyer Bristow partner Kate Macmillan to lead the appeal on behalf of the three-year old child by her mother, the former mistress, who was subsequently identified in the press as Helen McIntyre.
Price argued that the High Court was wrong to find that the child’s expectations to privacy under Article 8 the Human Rights Act (HRA) was weakened because her mother had spoken about the paternity of the child at a house party.
Furthermore, he contended, “the claimant’s expectation of privacy (weakened as she held it to be) was outweighed by the public interest in the recklessness of the father”.
Price faced setmate Desmond Browne QC, instructed by RPC partner Keith Mathieson, for Daily Mail publisher Associated Press. He countered that the fact that McIntyre had agreed to a public interview in 2010 demonstrated that she “had little concern as to the effect of the magazine article” on the child.
The appeal court agreed.
The judgment, delivered by the Master of Rolls Lord Justice Dyson, showed strong support for the first instance ruling of Mrs Justice Davies. Dyson MR said: “In my view, the judge was right to regard the mother’s behaviour at the weekend party as indicative of an ambivalent approach to the confidentiality of the claimant’s paternity.”
Rejecting the appeal the court stated: “It is not in dispute that the legitimate public interest in the father’s character is an important factor to be weighed in the balance against the claimant’s expectation of privacy.
“The core information in this story, namely that the father had an adulterous affair with the mother, deceiving both his wife and the mother’s partner and that the claimant, born about nine months later, was likely to be the father’s child, was a public interest matter which the electorate was entitled to know when considering his fitness for high public office.”
Neither McIntyre nor Johnson have confirmed or denied publicly that he is the father of the child.
For the appellant AAA (by her litigation friend BBB)
5RB’s James Price QC and 5RB’s William Bennett instructed by Collyer Bristow
For the respondent Associated Press
5RB’s Desmond Browne QC and 5RB’s Alexandra Marzec instructed by RPC partner Keith Matheison