Balancing interest in publishing the information about arrest for cocaine possesion against TV actor's right to respect for his private life

Print this page 13-04-2012
IPPT20120207, ECHR, Axel Springer v Germany

PUBLICATION – PRIVACY

 

Balancing interest in publishing the information about arrest for cocaine possesion against TV actor's right to respect for his private life; under the circumstances no need to preserve anonymity TV actor; no bad faith publisher


"107. The fact is, however, that having regard to the nature of the offence committed by X, the degree to which X is well known to the public, the circumstances of his arrest and the veracity of the information in question, the applicant company – having obtained confirmation of that information from the prosecuting authorities themselves – did not have sufficiently strong grounds for believing that it should preserve X’s anonymity.
In that context, it should also be pointed out that all the information revealed by the applicant company on the day on which the first article appeared was confirmed by the prosecutor W. to other magazines and to television channels. Likewise, when the second article appeared, the facts leading to X’s conviction were already known to the public (see, mutatis mutandis, Aleksey Ovchinnikov v. Russia, no. 24061/04, § 49, 16 December 2010). Moreover, the Court of Appeal itself considered that the applicant company’s liability did not extend beyond minor negligence given that the information disclosed by the public prosecutor’s office had led it to believe that the report was lawful (see paragraph 35 above). In the Court’s view, it has not therefore been shown that the applicant company acted in bad faith when publishing the articles in question."

 

Content, form and consequences of the impugned articles do constitute a ground for banning them

 

"108. The Court observes that the first article merely related X’s arrest, the information obtained from W. and the legal assessment of the seriousness of the offence by a legal expert (see paragraph 13 above). The second article only reported the sentence imposed by the court at the end of a public hearing and after X had confessed (see paragraph 15 above). The articles did not therefore reveal details about X’s private life, but mainly concerned the circumstances of and events following his arrest (see Flinkkilä and Others, cited above, § 84, and Jokitaipale and Others, cited above, § 72). They contained no disparaging expression or unsubstantiated allegation (see the case-law cited in paragraph 82 above). The fact that the first article contained certain expressions which, to all intents and purposes, were designed to attract the public’s attention cannot in itself raise an issue under the Court’s case-law (see Flinkkilä and Others, cited above, § 74, and Pipi, above-cited decision).
The Court notes, moreover, that the Regional Court imposed an injunction on publication of the photos accompanying the impugned articles and that the applicant company did not challenge that injunction. It therefore considers that the form of the articles in question did not constitute a ground for banning their publication. Furthermore, the Government did not show that publication of the articles had resulted in serious consequences for X."

 

IPPT20120207, ECHR, Axel Springer v Germany