Rio Ferdinand Looses Law Suit

Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand declared that the article – “My Affair with England Captain Rio” – a “gross invasion of my privacy” stating that he had not seen Ms Storey for six years by the time the article appeared.

The 32-year-old defender and his wife, Rebecca, have three children.

The Manchester United player was seeking substantial damages from MGN Ltd for misuse of private information.

The article appeared in the April 2010 Sunday Mirror in which Carly Storey gave her account of their alleged relationship in return for £16,000.

The case depended upon whether the newspaper was justified in publishing its story because the public interest was such that its Article 10 right to freedom of expression was of a greater importance than Ferdinand’s Article 8 privacy right under the Human Rights Act.

Mirror lawyer Marcus Partington stated, “If you are a public figure and create a false public image, then the press should be entitled to enter into that debate”.

Ferdinand replaced John Terry as England captain in February 2010 after stories about Terry’s alleged affairs emerged.

The story said Ferdinand ended the alleged relationship within days of being handed the captain’s armband.

Counsel, Gavin Millar QC, said Ferdinand was appointed England captain on the basis of being reformed and responsible.

He argued that the case was not really about Ferdinand’s privacy but about the effect on the public image he had constructed, and was without merit.

In court, the judge, Mr Justice Nicol, said: “Overall, in my judgement, the balancing exercise favours the defendant’s right of freedom of expression over the claimant’s right of privacy.”

“At one level it was a ‘kiss and tell’ story. Even less attractively, it was a ‘kiss and paid for telling’ story, but stories may be in the public interest even if the reasons behind the informant providing the information are less than noble.”

“It was a job that carried with it an expectation of high standards. In the views of many the captain was expected to maintain those standards off, as well as on, the pitch.”

The judge refused Ferdinand permission to appeal, although he can renew his application directly to the Court of Appeal.

Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver said in a statement that the paper was “very pleased” about the court’s decision.

“The judge found that there was a justified public interest in reporting the off-pitch behaviour of the then England captain and discussion of his suitability for such an important and ambassadorial role representing the country.

The story alleged that Carly Storey had a 13-year relationship with Rio Ferdinand.

“We are pleased the judge ruled that Mr Ferdinand had perpetuated a misleading public image and the Sunday Mirror was entitled to correct this impression.

“There has never been greater scrutiny of the media than now, and we applaud this ruling in recognising the important role a free press has to play in a democratic society,” it said.

Law firm Simons Muirhead & Burton issued a statement on Ferdinand’s behalf, saying it was “extremely disappointed” with the court’s decision.

“We will be appealing the judgment at the first available opportunity.”

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