Kirsty Hughes, ‘The Public Figure Doctrine and the Right to Privacy’

This article argues that the public figure doctrine is doctrinally problematic and conceptually and normatively flawed. Doctrinal uncertainty surrounds who is affected and how rights are affected. Conceptually it raises challenges for universality, the non-hierarchical relationship between Articles 8 and 10 ECHR, the process of resolving rights conflicts, and the relationship between domestic law and the Convention. All of which necessitate a strong normative justification for the distinction. Yet there is no compelling rationale. The values underpinning the right to privacy of public figures are no different from those of other persons and there are other better mechanisms of accounting for freedom of expression. We should therefore reject the idea that public figures have fewer or weaker privacy rights or that the process of dealing with their rights is different and instead focus squarely upon the relative importance of the rights, and the degree of intrusion into those rights.

Kirsty Hughes, The Public Figure Doctrine and the Right to Privacy, Cambridge Law Journal, Volume 78, Issue 1, March 2019, pp 70-99.

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