Huhne partner Carina Trimingham loses privacy case
- 24 May 2012
- From the section UK
The partner of the ex-Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Chris Huhne has lost her High Court case against Associated Newspapers for alleged breach of privacy and harassment.
Carina Trimingham was "not the purely private figure she had claimed to be," the judge said as she was ordered to pay £250,000 costs.
Ms Trimingham said this could become a "blueprint for bullies and bigots".
The Daily Mail's Andrew Pierce said it was a "vindication of our journalism".
Speaking outside court Ms Trimingham said she was disappointed by the judgement and that she intended to appeal.
She said although the court had accepted "repeated mocking" of a person on account of sexuality would amount to harassment, it stopped short of accepting this was applicable in her case.
"The court did not appreciate that when newspapers make repeated irrelevant references to sexuality - particularly in the context of pejorative and stereotypical references to appearance - it amounts to the same type of mocking which the court has confirmed is unacceptable.
"This is confused, and I think wrong," she said.
The 65 articles over 15 months referred to the "life and very different loves of the PR girl in Doc Martens" and described her as a "comedy lesbian from central casting".
Columnist Andrew Pierce, who wrote about Ms Trimingham in the Daily Mail, said the judgement "repudiates" the accusations levelled by Ms Trimingham.
"It's a vindication not just of our journalists but also our journalism," he said.
Ms Trimingham had sued the Daily Mail for compensation and an injunction over articles published after Ms Trimingham's affair with Liberal Democrat MP Mr Huhne became public in June 2010.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Tugendhat said Ms Trimingham was not a purely private figure.
"This is mainly by reason of her involvement with Mr Huhne, both professionally, as his press agent, and personally as his secret mistress, in circumstances where he campaigned with a leaflet to the electorate of Eastleigh about how much he valued his family.
"But it is also by reason of what she herself has disclosed in the past."
He also said she was a journalist who had previously disclosed information about other people for publication.
The judge concluded she "was a person who ought not reasonably to be expected to be distressed when such information was published about herself".
Ms Trimingham's counsel Matthew Ryder QC told the court the articles had made constant and gratuitous reference to her sexuality and previous relationship with another woman, with whom she entered into a civil partnership in 2007.
"Miss Trimingham is not ashamed or embarrassed by her sexuality but it was private," he said.
Antony White QC, for Associated, had told the High Court how Ms Trimingham was "not a shrinking violet but a seasoned political journalist".
He had continued: "She is open about her sexuality and, perhaps most telling, she has sold stories about other people's sex lives to the press.
"She gives as good as she gets. She dishes it out."
Following the judgement, a spokesman for Associated Newspapers said: "This was an important example of the press exercising its right to free speech in relation to matters of significant public interest."