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I'm a journalist, ex-national papers, now working in what we call "new" media.

The fact that Lord Browne is gay is not a matter of public interest and normally a newspaper would have no justification for revealing the fact. However, Lord Browne has been accused of lavishing BP shareholders' funds on his Canadian lover (allegations that he denies) and in order for this tale (which is clearly in the public interest) to be told, his sexuality had to be revealed.

There are often calls for a privacy law, which would prevent newspapers from publishing details about individuals' private lives but this case shows how problematic such a law could be and how the rich and powerful could use it to suppress investigation into questions of legitimate public interest.

UPDATE: I understand there is still an injunction preventing publication of the details of how Lord Browne met his lover, yet Robert Peston has revealed the details on his BBC blog, as has the Guardian. Brave, foolhardy or simply an oversight?

FURTHER UPDATE: Stephen Pollard is correct. Lord Browne should be prosecuted for perjury.


Anonymous said...

The judgment of the Court of Appeal holds that embarrassing details of how Browne met his lover Jeff Chevalier should not be included in the published version of the trial court's judgment.

The Court of Appeal expressly refused to enjoin publication by Associated Newspapers, let alone anyone else. In theory, Browne could sue anyone for defamation or invasion of privacy, but he would be exceedingly unlikely to succeed since such trials may be held before a civil jury.