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Huhne partner brings damages action

MP Chris Huhne's partner Carina Trimingham has brought a High Court damages action over a "cataclysmic interference" with her private life.

Ms Trimingham - whose affair with the former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change became public in June 2010, with Mr Huhne leaving his wife of 26 years - is suing Associated Newspapers for misuse of private information and harassment.

She is seeking compensation and an injunction over 65 "highly unpleasant and hurtful" articles which have appeared since then. Her lawyers have told Mr Justice Tugendhat, in London, that they constituted a "cataclysmic interference" with the 44-year-old PR adviser's private life.

Associated has contested the case on the basis that there was an important public interest. It was entitled to report the story in full including information which would bring it to life for readers and present it in a hard-hitting fashion, it has argued.

Ms Trimingham's counsel, Matthew Ryder QC, said that the newspaper had a right to freedom of expression, but not to abuse her repeatedly under the guise of exercising that freedom.

Its articles made constant and gratuitous reference to her sexuality and previous relationship with another woman, using crude and demeaning stereotypes, and elicited offensive and sometimes homophobic comments from readers.

He added: "Miss Trimingham is not ashamed or embarrassed by her sexuality but it was private. She wished to have control about who she told and about how widely it was known. That has gone. The fact she entered a civil partnership is not of itself an indication that her sexuality or her relationship was something she wished to broadcast to everyone who met her."

Ms Trimingham was not a public figure and, even if there was a public interest, it was "low to the point of being virtually negligible". The articles had referred to the "life and very different loves of the PR girl in Doc Martens", described her as a "comedy lesbian from central casting", and published an "inherently private" photo of her 2007 civil partnership ceremony.

Antony White QC, for Associated Newspapers, said Ms Trimingham's case was focused not on whole articles in the Daily Mail, but isolated words or snippets of text.

He added: "The evidence will show that she is not a shrinking violet, but a seasoned political journalist. She is open about her sexuality and, perhaps most telling, she has sold stories about other people's sex lives to the press. She gives as good as she gets. She dishes it out."

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