Axel Springer AG vs. Saksamaa
Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
The applicant company was a publisher of a national daily newspaper which published two articles about the star of a popular television series, Mr. X. The first article stated that Mr. X had been arrested for possession of cocaine. The second article reported that the actor had been convicted of unlawful possession of drugs following a full confession and had been fined. Immediately after those articles appeared, Mr. X obtained an injunction restraining any further publication of the articles. The applicant company was also ordered to pay a penalty EUR 6,000 for both of the articles.
The applicant company complained that the injunction imposed on it against reporting on the arrest and conviction of Mr. X had violated its freedom of expression.
The Court ruled that the restrictions imposed on the applicant had not been necessary to protect the actor’s private life. Therefore the applicant’s freedom of expression had been violated.
- The Court noted that the injunction was prescribed by law and aimed to protect the privacy or reputation of Mr. X.
- However, the Court found that the interference had not been necessary and proportionate:
- Arrest and conviction of an actor were public judicial facts that could present a degree of general interest. Public has the right to be informed about criminal proceedings.
- The articles concentrated on a well known public figure, the main actor in a very popular series.
- Moreover, Mr. X had previously shared the details of his private life in many interviews, thus his expectations towards effective protection of his private life were reduced.
- The articles had not revealed details about the actor’s private life, but had concerned the circumstances of his arrest and the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
- The articles did not contain any disparaging expression or unsubstantiated allegation.
- The offence committed by Mr. X was not a petty offence, as cocaine was a hard drug, and Mr. X was arrested in public.