Celebrity Secrets in Privacy Law Storm; Man's Affair Stays Hidden to Protect His Children
Byline: Tom Kelly, Steve Doughty
THE secrecy laws that allow celebrities to hide their involvement in sex scandals took a major leap forward yesterday in a draconian decision by Appeal Court judges.
They ruled that a wellknown married man working in the entertainment industry who had an affair with a colleague cannot be named - to protect his children from playground bullying.
Three judges led by Lord Justice Ward said the public had no right to know about the relationship, which led to the sacking of the man's married lover.
And, for the first time, Lord Justice Ward extended the reach of privacy law beyond what is published by newspapers or broadcasters to cover everyday office banter.
In remarks described by lawyers as setting a 'dangerous precedent', he said people were entitled to expect colleagues who notice their sexual affairs to keep it quiet.
This suggests that ordinary people sharing office banter risk falling foul of the expanding net of judge-made privacy law.
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who has launched an inquiry into the proliferation of privacy rules, said the doctrine that children must be shielded from playground bullying could be used to prevent publicity about serious criminals.
'The trial of a murderer could be declared secret on the grounds his children might suffer,' he added.
The landmark judgment came in the case of a father-of-two, referred to in court only as ETK, who had a six-month sexual relationship with his colleague.
He ended the affair after his wife discovered it then told his bosses he would prefer not to see his mistress again, and one of them should leave their job.
His lover was said in the judgment to have been 'angry' after she was sacked months later.
The Appeal Court judges ruled that under privacy laws the figure must be protected from public exposure by a newspaper which planned to report details of the affair and its aftermath. …