Does English law strike the correct balance between individual privacy and the press’ freedom to publish private information about individuals who happen to be persons of interest to the public?

Mock Exam
You must answer any TWO of the THREE questions provided
There is a word limit of 1500 words per answer
You have 12 hours to answer these questions.
Footnoting is not required; in-text citations to references will suffice
Indicate on the attachment the numbers of the questions you have chosen to answer.


Sabrina Spellman is a US citizen who in now half-way through her second year studying an undergraduate law degree at Stepney University on East London. Sabrina has become very well known among the student body as the founder of the student union’s Wiccan Society, the first such in any UK university. The society is intended to promote the interests of students who follow the Wiccan religion, as well as promoting the faith itself. Not all students support the existence of this society; several recently gave an interview to the London Evening News in which they condemned the Wiccan Society as “dark forces attempting to take over our Union by dubious means”. The article angered Sabrina, who felt personally attacked by its claim that the group is “a society of evil” and “causes trouble and intolerance within the student body”. The article concerned has been shared many times over on Tweetar and Facespace since Sabrina was, last month, elected as the new president of the Stepney University Students’ Union. George Hawthorne, an infamous tabloid newspaper columnist, ever ready to express an opinion on any controversy, was recently interviewed on Channel 3’s nine o’clock news bulletin. During the item, George claimed that Sabrina was “just a troublemaker who liked to feel special”, and claimed that she had commented on the Tweetar micro-blogging platform in support of the defacing of a local Christian church with graffiti including various symbols such as inverted crosses and pentacles which, said George, “belong to Wiccans and with which they mark their territory.” Sabrina immediately issued a public statement pointing out that, following the reported vandalism in question, she had actually spoken out against such acts, and that the comments George attributed to Sabrina were actually posted by Prudence Night, a member of a rival Wiccan club which had been ejected from the Students’ Union for being intolerant of other faith groups. George’s response to this was to put up a Tweetar message to the effect of “does it matter? They’re all the same…” The original interview remains available on the Channel 3 Player online, while several anti-Wicca groups have also taken clips from it and spread these across social media, using the ‘share’ buttons provided on the streaming site.
Several weeks after Sabrina’s election victory, Stepney Student News, the student union newspaper, runs an article about her new administration, alleging that she has pushed aside many of her co-elected members and other Union employees, preferring to work only with an inner circle of other members of the Wiccan Society, that others have dubbed ‘the Weird Sisters’. The story cites several anonymous sources who claim that they have been “bullied and push aside, when all we wanted to do was work with them for the benefit of all our students”. It is presented as an expose, labelled “The story your new bully president won’t want you to read – and the enormity of the mistake we all made voting for her”. The article claims that it did try to reach out to Sabrina for her side of the story, but that she had not returned their calls before they went to press.
Finally, in the wake of the controversy, several students have posted on a bulletin board run by the Student Union a link to a newspaper story in the Baxter Bugle¸the local paper in Sabrina’s US home town. Under the title “Local girl gone bad abroad”, it recounts a version of Sabrina’s experiences, portraying her as the villain. In particular, it quotes the editor of the London Evening News, who says “She’s a nightmare – we never named nor even intended anything personal about her in our piece, and yet she refused to be reasonable and accept an apology, a chance to set the record straight or even a donation to her club!”
Sabrina has had enough of all the negative publicity, and has decided that she wants to pursue a libel action in the English courts against the London Evening News, George Hawthorne, Channel 3 News, the Stepney Student News and the Baxter Bugle. Advise her on her likely chances of success.
“While there may be exceptional circumstances in which injunctions may be necessary, we now are seeing gagging orders being used to hide the wealthy from embarrassment and even commercial damage. We are in danger of creating a secret network of secret rich man’s justice.” John Kampfner, Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, speaking in 2011.
Does English law strike the correct balance between individual privacy and the press’ freedom to publish private information about individuals who happen to be persons of interest to the public?
At a conference you attend, the keynote speaker, one Professor Gary Suture, states the following:
“It is high time for English law to come into the twenty-first century and recognise a legal right in personality, which should be available to all, rather than merely continuing to allow the rich and famous to protect their image via a mutated form of unregistered trademark with ‘passing off’. We all have personalities, so we should all have personality rights. English law as it presently stands simply does not do enough to protect each and every individual’s reasonable right to prevent their image from unwanted commercial exploitation.”
Do you agree with Suture? Explain your answer.