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The purpose of this book is to consider whether the existing law in England and Wales is adequate to protect the privacy of the individual against the intrusion by the press. The nature and extent of existing protection and what alternatives there may be is considered thoroughly. Press intrusion and its general behaviour receive particular attention through sections on the Press Complaints Commission, its Code of Practice and whether self-regulation is favourable over legislative control.
Various existing laws are discussed to establish whether or not they are adequate to protect privacy: confidentiality, with a reference to the equitable origins and its modern day criteria. It is very much a case-by-case distinction with an emphasis on the public interest defence but confidentiality is probably the closest protection of privacy that we have at the present. Copyright is also considered, with regard to the written word (personal letters) and the spoken word (interviews). Also the intrusion by publication of photographs is a matter that is raised.
There are various common law remedies that may protect privacy, such as nuisance, but this has limitations. Some of these may have been resolved by statute. There will be a consideration of other existing legal aspects possibly protecting privacy, concluding that the general assumption that there is no actual law of privacy. This is not intended to be a substitute for a textbook on Tort.
Future legal developments will be addressed with an outline of how the Human Rights Act will work and an examination of whether it will affect the press and privacy. Particular consideration will be given to the task of the judiciary to balance freedom of expression with the right to privacy.