Injunction boosts PROs’ right to protect client data

Public relations professionals have increased powers to protect their clients’ personal information after the latest development in McKennitt vs Ash – the legal case that has been closely watched by both the media and the PR industry.

The case gives PROs new rights to restrict access to details of personal relationships, private conversations, domestic details and shared experiences – whether they are true or false.

Former BP chief executive Lord Browne recently used the case successfully to prevent the disclosure of relationship details and private conversations.

In 2005, Canadian singer ­Loreena McKennitt took her former friend Niema Ash to court after she published a book about the singer that revealed details of the death of Mc­Kennitt’s fiancé and her sub­sequent grief. The court found in McKennitt’s favour.

Ash’s appeal against the verdict subsequently failed on two occasions – in the British Court of Appeal in December 2006 and in the House of Lords at the end of March this year.

Last week, the case took a new turn when an injunction was passed against the def­endant
after she attempted to publish a new version of the offending book.

Carter-Ruck partner Mark Thomson said: ‘In England the protection of privacy has been embryonic but is now developing. This case is critical and is one of the most important media cases in the last 10 to 20 years.’

He continued: ‘The invasion of privacy is endemic in British media, particularly in the red-tops. This provides a new method of protecting your position and can be used in reputation ­management.’

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