Anorak News | Rio Ferdinand’s Defeat Triggers Open Season On Cheating Footballers: Kiss ‘n’ Tells Are Back

Rio Ferdinand’s Defeat Triggers Open Season On Cheating Footballers: Kiss ‘n’ Tells Are Back

by | 29th, September 2011

RIO Ferdinand lost his case against the MGN, publishers of the Sunday Mirror. The married Manchester United player and self-declared role model was unhappy that the paper had published the words of Carly Storey, who earned £16,000 for kissing and telling on their 13-year affair.

Judge Nicol J had to rule between the paper’s right to freedom of expression and the alleged breach of confidence.

The Daily Star summed up the case well:

Married dad-of-three Rio, 32, is seeking aggravated damages over allegations in a Sunday newspaper that he accepted the England captaincy from shamed John Terry despite having a mistress himself.

As we reported:

Married family man Terry was stripped of the captaincy in disgrace following his alleged extramarital affair with team-mate Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa Perroncel.

Ferdinand told the court:
“I was extremely upset to read the story – I view it as a gross invasion of my privacy and extremely damaging to my private life. People started shouting things out at me in the street.”

Things like: “Where’s your new bird?”

The facts of the case went like this, as told in the court report:

On 25 April 2010, the Sunday Mirror published an article about the Claimant’s relationship with Ms Carly Storey, who he had first met in 1996-1997. The article alleged that the Claimant had been having an affair with Ms Storey until the beginning of 2010 when he terminated the relationship after being made England Captain in February 2010. The article alleged that he had ended the relationship out of fear of being exposed like his predecessor, John Terry.
The Claimant claimed that the article was a misuse of his private information and a breach of confidence. The Defendant defended the article as a legitimate exercise of its right to freedom of expression on the following public interest grounds:
1. That the Claimant had presented a false or misleading image of himself as a reformed character and a family man.
2. That the Claimant had embarked on a misleading campaign since 2006 to project a more responsible and positive image than the reputation he held in the past.
3. That there was an ongoing public debate as to whether the Claimant was a suitable person to be appointed as England Captain following the dismissal of John Terry (who had been sacked over an extra-martial affair).
4. Ms Storey’s own right to freedom of expression under Art 10 and her right to personal autonomy under Article 8.

The judge ruled:

…the Defendant’s right to freedom of expression outweighed the Claimant’s right to privacy. The publication of the article was justified in the public interest and the information contributed to a debate of general interest in a democratic society on the following grounds:
• The Claimant had given an interview to the News of the World in January 2006 in which he had portrayed himself as a reformed family man who had given up the ways of his past, including ‘cheating’ on his long-term partner, Ms Ellison. The same themes were echoed in the Claimant’s autobiography and subsequent media interviews. While that image persisted, there was a public interest in demonstrating it was false.
• There was a further public interest due to the Claimant’s appointment as England Captain. Many members of the public expect high standards from someone in the Claimant’s position and for many, the Captain is expected to be a role model who maintains those standards off, as well as on, the football pitch.  The Defendant’s article reasonably contributed to a debate of general interest in a democratic society as to his suitability for that role.
• In terms of the additional details in the story about the early part of the relationship, the Defendant was entitled to place the relationship in context. The photo was unexceptional and its publication provided an element of support to the story. The publication of the additional details did not cause the Claimant unjustifiable additional distress (distinguishing Campbell v MGN Ltd).

Ferdinand was slaughtered by the Judge:

“I did not find this answer persuasive. In his evidence the claimant said that (Fabio) Capello had told him to be professional, not only on the pitch but ‘around the hotel’. In the past, the Claimant (Ferdinand) had not behaved in a professional manner around the hotels into which he had tried to sneak Ms Storey. Whether or not he had done that in the few weeks since he had been made the permanent captain of England, his relative recent past failings could legitimately be used to call into question his suitability for the role.”


“On the evidence presented in this case, it is by no means a universal view that the captain’s role is confined to what happens on the pitch or what affects the players’ performance. Ferdinand, he added, had voluntarily assumed the role. It was a job that carried with it an expectation of high standards. In the views of many the captain was expected to maintain those standards off, as well as on, the pitch. There were many who would indeed see the captain, at least, of the England football team as a ‘role model’… During the course of the hearing I asked the parties whether it was incumbent on me to decide whether the claimant was fit to be England captain. Thankfully they agreed that it was not. The issue is rather whether the defendant’s article reasonably contributed to the debate as to his suitability for that role.”

This is the first privacy trial in which the disclosure of an extra-marital affair was considered justified in the public interest. Kiss ‘n’ tells are not dead – they’ve just been waiting for this case to finish. It’s game on for cheating footballers…


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Posted: 29th, September 2011 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink