OPO v James Rhodes & Canongate: Publishing injunction victory

The Supreme Court has today lifted the injunction preventing publication by Canongate Books Ltd of James Rhodes’ autobiography ‘Instrumental’.

In a unanimous judgment five judges ruled that ‘freedom to report the truth is a basic right’. The author is now free ‘to tell his story to the world at large in the way in which he wishes to tell it’.
In coming to this conclusion, which it recognised raises important questions about freedom of speech, the Court overturned the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of Wilkinson v Downton (1897).  It found that publication was neither intended to cause harm nor targeted at any individual reader.  The book should be considered in relation to its wide audience rather than to the claimant alone.
Canongate was represented by Martin Soames, Gordon Clough and Jeffrey Smele of SM&B and by Counsel Antony White QC and Jacob Dean.

In a unanimous judgment five judges ruled that ‘freedom to report the truth is a basic right’. The author is now free ‘to tell his story to the world at large in the way in which he wishes to tell it’.

In coming to this conclusion, which it recognised raises important questions about freedom of speech, the Court overturned the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of Wilkinson v Downton (1897).  It found that publication was neither intended to cause harm nor targeted at any individual reader.  The book should be considered in relation to its wide audience rather than to the claimant alone.

The Supreme Court heard the expedited appeal on 19 and 20 January.

Canongate was represented by Martin Soames, Gordon Clough and Jeffrey Smele of SM&B and by Counsel Antony White QC and Jacob Dean.

A full PDF transcript of the decision is here.

You can watch the Supreme Court’s video summary of the judgment, pronounced this morning, here.

Canongate’s press release is here.

James Rhodes’ press release is here.

SM&B’s Martin Soames comments on the case and the courage of the publisher in The Bookseller.  The Inforrm blog has published a piece by Lucy Moorman.

There are also reports in the TelegraphGuardianDaily Mail and on the BBC.

Click here for a report of the January hearing in the Guardian and here for the write-up in The Bookseller.