Campbell v. MGN Ltd
 UKHL 22
House of Lords
6 May 2004
The appellant sought compensation for the publication of specific information regarding her seeking treatment at Narcotics Anonymous, as well as the photographs taken of her leaving a meeting there. The Law Lords balanced her right to privacy under Article 8 with the newspaper’s freedom of expression under Article 10 and found that her right to privacy was more important.
The appellant was a celebrated fashion model. In February 2001 the respondent carried as its first story on the front page of the Mirror newspaper a prominent article concerning the appellant's drug addiction. The article was supported by a picture of the appellant outside a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous. The story continued inside with a two page article and more photographs. The appellant sued the respondent, claiming damages for breach of confidence and compensation under the Data Protection Act 1998. The appellant admitted that she had taken drugs and the newspaper could therefore publish fact of her drug addiction and that she was seeking treatment. However, the appellant argued that she should be protected from disclosure in relation to the fact that she was receiving treatment at Narcotics Anonymous, the details of the treatment, and the visual portrayal of her leaving a specific meeting with other addicts. The trial court upheld her claim and the Court of Appeal reversed. She then appealed to the House of Lords.
The Law Lords balanced the appellant’s right to privacy under Article 8 against the right of the media to impart information to the public, and the right of the media to impart information to the public under Article 10. Under Section 12 of the Human Rights Act 1998, neither Article 8 or 10 should be given pre-eminence. The Law Lords therefore examined whether the publication of the material pursued a legitimate aim and whether the benefits that would be achieved by its publication were proportionate to the harm that may be done by the interference with the appellant’s right to privacy. Likewise, the Law Lords balanced the fact that the photographs were taken in a public place with the fact that the photographs were taken deliberately, in secret, and with a view to their publication in conjunction with the article.
On balance, the Law Lords found that the appellant’s right to privacy regarding the specific nature of her treatment outweighed the public’s right to know that specific information. However, the public’s right to know that she was lying when she said she did not take drugs did outweigh her right to privacy.
The appellant was a celebrated fashion model and a recovering drug addict. No indication that she had committed any other crime or behaved badly in any way. Not a villain.