Nightjack: The Statement in Open Court

This is today’s statement in open court on the Nightjack hack.  For background see my posts at New Statesman here and on the settlement here.

IN THE High Court of justice

Chancery Division

BETWEEN:-

 RICHARD HORTON

Claimant

and

TIMES NEWSPAPERS LIMITED

Defendant

STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT

 Solicitor for the Claimant.

  1. My Lord, in this action I appear for the Claimant, Richard Horton, and my learned friend appears for the Defendant, Times Newspapers Limited, the publisher of The Times.
  2. By way of background, the Claimant was the author of the highly successful “blog” known as “Nightjack an English Detective”. In April 2009 he won the Orwell prize for political writing.
  3. In May 2009 a journalist employed by the Defendant, informed the Claimant that he had discovered his identity and that the Defendant was about to reveal his identity by publishing it in The Times. The Claimant sought to restrain the Defendant from publication by injunction to retain his anonymity.
  4. In evidence put to the court, the Defendant claimed that the journalist had discovered the Claimant’s identity by legitimate means. In fact, the truth of the matter was very different; the journalist had gained unauthorised access to the Claimant’s email account. This was known to the Defendant at the time that it filed evidence in opposition to the injunction, but it failed to inform the Court of this fact.  Mr Justice Eady found for the Defendant and the Claimant settled the litigation on the terms that the application for the injunction was dismissed and the Claimant was ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs.
  5. In the process of giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry on press standards, James Harding, the Editor of The Times, stated that he had established the course of events and confirmed that the journalist had gained unauthorised access to the Claimant’s email account. He also apologised to the Court and to the Claimant.
  6. The Claimant has brought this claim for damages for breach of confidence, misuse of private information, and for deceit, and for an order that the costs order in the original proceedings be set aside.
  7. I am here to inform your Lordship that the Defendant has today agreed to apologise to the Claimant for the hurt it has caused him, to pay him substantial damages for the breach of confidence and for the misuse of his private information and the deceit, and to undertake not to access or attempt to access the Claimant’s email account again. The Defendant has also agreed to pay his legal costs.

Counsel for the Defendant.

  1. My Lord, on behalf of the Defendant Times Newspapers Limited, I confirm everything my friend has said.
  2. The Defendant is here today through me to offer its sincere apologies to the Claimant for the hurt it has caused him.  The Defendant has agreed to pay the Claimant substantial damages for accessing his email account without his consent, and to pay his legal costs.  The Defendant has also undertaken not to access or attempt to access the Claimant’s email account again.

Solicitor for the Claimant.

  1. Under the circumstances, the Claimant considers his claim to have been vindicated and I would ask the court to formally withdraw the record.

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