Supreme Court decision in OPO v. MLA – Canongate press release

Further to the decision handed down by the Supreme Court this morning in the case of OPO v. MLA, the publishers, Canongate, represented by SM&B’s Martin Soames and Jeffrey Smele, have issued the following press release.

Supreme Court overturns Court of Appeal’s decision to grant an injunction against James Rhodes’ memoir, Instrumental

In what is sure to be hailed as a great victory for the principles of freedom of speech, the Supreme Court handed down its unequivocal and unanimous judgement this morning in the case involving the classical pianist James Rhodes and his memoir, Instrumental.  In overturning the Court of Appeal’s decision to grant a temporary injunction, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the fundamental importance of an individual’s freedom to speak the truth, even if the truth is brutal or shocking.

“Freedom to report the truth is a basic right … There can be no justification for keeping secret the information contained in this book…the only proper conclusion is that there is every justification for the publication.  Lady Hale and Lord Toulson, from the Supreme Court’s Judgement, given on 20 May 2015

Rhodes’ publisher, Canongate, was a co-defendant in the case and has vigorously supported Rhodes and their joint right to publish Instrumental throughout the protracted legal battle that began in the Spring of 2014.  Instrumental will now be published on Thursday 28th May.


Jamie Byng, CEO of Canongate, said:

“The Supreme Court’s decision today is a vindication of Canongate’s firmly held belief in the individual’s right to freedom of expression and specifically of our belief in James Rhodes’s brave and important book, Instrumental.  The significance and value of this inspiring memoir that engages with abuse and the redemptive power of music to heal is hard to overstate.  And the honesty with which he writes about his experiences is humbling.”


James Rhodes said:

“Clearly this is a victory for freedom of speech.  More importantly it is a powerful message to survivors of sexual abuse.  There is already too much stigma and shame surrounding mental health and sexual abuse and although I am horrified that it has taken fourteen months of overwhelming stress and expense, I am relieved that our justice system has finally seen sense and not only allowed me to tell my story but affirmed in the strongest possible way that speaking up about one’s own life is a basic human right.  I hope my book will help fellow survivors of rape to find the courage to speak up.  And I hope it will inspire those in pain to find solace in music and togetherness.”


Canongate’s solicitor, Martin Soames of Simons Muirhead & Burton, said:

“This is a significant decision for freedom of speech and for all publishers.  Had the injunction been maintained it would have had a serious chilling effect on the publication of any contentious non-fiction.  People need to be able to tell the truth about themselves, but their stories would remain unheard if publishers were unwilling to take the risk of publishing them.


This judgment is a resounding endorsement of James Rhodes’ exceptional courage in telling his story, and also Canongate’s commitment in bringing it to the public.”

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

For all media enquiries please contact Liz Sich or Chris Baker at Four Colman Getty

Liz Sich;  07956 612380

or Chris Baker;  020 3697 4252/07872 176270

For all sales enquiries please contact Sian Gibson at Canongate

Sian Gibson 07889 407 900

A copy of the press released can also be found here.