This provides that “neither the name nor address, and no still or moving picture, of that person shall during that person’s lifetime … be published in England and Wales in a written publication available to the public“.
The interpretation section, s6, says that ““picture” includes a likeness however produced“.
It was confirmed in the case of O’Riordan v DPP  EWHC 1240 (Admin) that this is a ‘strict liability’ offence.
Further, under s1(2) “no matter likely to lead members of the public to identify a person as the person against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed (“the complainant”) shall during the complainant’s lifetime“.
Well, on 12th May 2016 another member of the ‘street of shame’ was up before the beak for a similar breach.
Operation Midland, The controversial (and expensive) enquiry as to the alleged paedophile ring featuring politicians and other celebrities, has attracted a huge amount of public interest.
Last September, the Daily Mail published an article about ‘Nick’, the alleged victim, entitled “Nick – victim or fantasist?”. This had a pixelated image of Nick, as well as containing ‘some personal details’ of him.
It seems that there were two charges. Presumably one related to the image, and the other to the ‘personal details’ contained in the article (s1(1) and s1(2) as set out above).
The Mail pleaded guilty.
Here, Associated Newspapers (the company that owns and publishes the Daily Mail) were fined £40,000. An eye-watering amount for you and I, even if it may not have that much of an impact on the newspaper’s bottom line.
How does the Court set a fine for this offence? There isn’t any real guidance. There is in relation to fining companies for Health & Safety breaches for example, and although the offence is different, the basic approach is probably pretty similar.
The District Judge said that although the article itself was in the public interest, the “offence is serious and I am particularly concerned about the damage to public confidence that complainants’ identities will be protected”.
When we looked at it before, we did raise a slight concern as to whether the offence should cover a pixelated image. I remain to be convinced that that is the case but given that far better legal minds than me have considered this, I accept that my view is probably not correct.
The other matter, the details that could have lead to Nick’s identification, is much more straightforward, and no complaint could be made about that allegation or conviction.
As to the level of the fine? The DJ has a wide level of discretion, but it may be time that a higher court does give some guidance. Especially as this issue is likely to arise more and more frequently in this internet age.