MGN Limited v. the United Kingdom

(Freedom of expression & Media – Evaluation of restrictions)
European Court of Human Rights
18 January 2011


The applicant, a publisher of a newspaper, published information about a drug addiction of a famous model. There was a photo added to the article showing the model coming out of the premises of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) center. The model sued the applicant for a breach of her privacy. The national courts found the applicant guilty and sentenced him to pay damages to the model stating that the publication of details of the model’s treatment in the NA and the secretly taken photographs was an invasion in her private life.


The applicant company alleged that the punishment for the publication of the photographs violated its right to freedom of expression.

Court's ruling

The Court ruled that the model’s right to private life outweighed the applicant company’s right to freedom of expression. Thus there had not been a violation of the applicant company’s freedom of expression.

The Court balanced the freedom of expression of the applicant against the right to private life of the model and found that:

  • The photos published were of intimate and private nature.
  • The public interest had been already satisfied by the publication of the core facts of the model’s addiction and treatment in article.
  • The publication of the photos was not necessary to ensure the credibility of the story.
  • The photographs had been taken covertly.
  • Publication of the photos was distressing for the model and might have endangered her treatment.

Learn more

Last updated 26/02/2024