In KJH v HGF [2010] EWHC 3064 (QB) Sharp J held that it was appropriate to continue an interim injunction and grant anonymity to protect the victim of blackmail which involved the threat of the revelation of stolen private and confidential information.  The evidence established to a high degree of probability that H was the victim of blackmail involving the threat of the revelation of stolen private and confidential information.  H was therefore likely to establish at trial that publication of the information should not be allowed.  There had also been no waiver of H’s privacy rights and there was no public interest justification for the publication of the information. The privacy interests engaged and the claim in breach of confidence were strong.  There was also a continuing risk that the private and confidential information stolen from H would be made public.  Strong public policy considerations which justified the protection of the identity of victims of blackmail arose in criminal and civil proceedings: such persons should not be deterred from seeking the courts’ protection for fear that the information which the blackmailer had threatened to reveal would be exposed or that their identity as the victim of blackmail would be made known.  A final determination of the matter had to await trial, granting anonymity at the interim stage served the interest of such an applicant in protecting his or her rights under ECHR Art 8 and the public interest in promoting the prevention and punishment of blackmail.  As a result it had also been necessary to derogate from the principle of open justice by holding the hearing in private and to anonymise the names of H and F.

James Goudie QC