Simons Muirhead 2-0 Schillings: McClaren privacy bid against The Sun fails

Simons Muirhead & Burton has scored a victory for press freedom in a rematch with Schillings over The Sun on Sunday’s front page about former England manager Steve McClaren’s alleged affair.

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

McClaren instructed Schillings partner John Kelly and Hugh Tomlinson QC of Matrix Chambers to apply for a last minute interim privacy injunction to stop the publication of the tabloid’s splash yesterday, headed ‘Soccer exclusive: McClaren affair with Sven’s ex’.

The Sun publisher News Group Newspapers instructed Simons Muirhead & Burton partner Louis Charalambous and Richard Spearman QC, head of chambers at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square.

The High Court threw out McClaren’s legal bid following a 90-minute telephone hearing, which finished at 8.30pm on Saturday night.

The paper then went to press with the next day’s front page story on the allegations that McClaren had been cheating on his wife.

Mr Justice Lindbolm, the judge considering the application, ruled that the public interest in the story outweighed McClaren’s right to privacy.

Charalambous said the paper’s case was that the story was based on the reporting of the extra-marital affair, rather than the details of that alleged affair. Counsel said that as the England manager’s position is one of the most high-profile jobs in the country, McClaren was a role model.

As the applicant was unlikely to be given a full injunction, there should not be an interim order in the meantime, Spearman added.

Kelly and Tomlinson tried to halt the story on the grounds that it would intrude into their client’s right to a private life.

Charalambous said News Group’s team used the role model argument that was influential in Rio Ferdinand losing his legal action against Mirror Group Newspapers a case that his colleague, partner Martin Soames, was instructed in on behalf of the footballer (30 September 2012).

Charalambous said: “The landscape has changed.”

The Ryan Giggs case, in which Charalambous and Spearman acted for News Group against another Schillings partner Gideon Benaim, was the “turning point”, he claimed (2 March 2012).

Benaim is currently on gardening leave from Schillings as he prepares to leave the firm (8 June 2012).