Privacy and deception

How far should privacy go?

The Human Rights Act seems to make it clear: “Everyone has the right to privacy of their private and family life, their health and their correspondence,” it says in so many words.

Yet what are the boundaries? This crucial question is raised again because the golfer Colin Montgomerie has won an injunction to stop newspapers reporting on his private life.

Private is private

He said at a press conference: “Please, no further questions on anything regarding my private life.  By definition, that is private.” Why would we be interested in the private life of a golfer, or for that matter, any other sportsperson? Or, come to think of it, anybody else?

Surely only those who lecture us, legislate for us or judge us on private matters should be open to scrutiny. Celebrities are using the privacy law to control their images. Many reveal selective parts of their private lives through their PR operations. Then they stamp on what they don’t want to be revealed with their lawyers, crying that it’s private.

Selective manipulation

By all means have a private life, and keep it private. But this selective manipulation should be banned. If they reveal their private lives, then they should be totally open to public scrutiny.

Mr Justice Eady who hears most of these applications for gagging orders clearly warned in the McKennitt v Ash case that privacy will be strictly interpreted. He did so in the Max Mosley case. I’m happy to only know about Montgomerie as a golfer, or Mosley as an F1 racing organiser.

 But if they “lift the kimono” on their private lives, we should not be deceived by them. Deceived by omission as well as by deception.

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