A Sunday newspaper had no right to publish photographs of a man alleged to have been housing former loyalist paramilitary chief Johnny Adair, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.
The privacy case was also compared to an action brought by ex-Formula One chief Max Mosley over false allegations that he took part in a Nazi-themed orgy.
In a case with potentially significant consequences for press freedom, the man is suing the publishers of the Sunday World over an article which claimed Adair had been staying at his house in Co Antrim.
An article was published in the Sunday World under the heading ‘Adair's Lair?’ which included photos of the man and his home.
The story contained both the claim and the man’s denial of it. The newspaper is accused of misuse of private information and a breach of the Data Protection Act.
According to the plaintiff, his right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights has also been breached.
The Sunday World denies any breach of his rights, invoking defences of public interest and qualified privilege.
But Alva Brangam QC, for the plaintiff, questioned the public need to know his client's address and claimed there had been a gross invasion of privacy over “nothing more than a might-be rumour”.
Judges hearing the appeal reserved their decision on whether the action should switch to the High Court.