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Privacy injunction granted for sex worker. The case of GYH

Being a sex worker does not mean you can't have a private life, says judge as Cohen Davis obtains a privacy injunction for its escort client.

In yet another ground breaking case, Cohen Davis’ team has obtained one of our most important judgements this year, whilst securing a privacy injunction for one of our clients, a London Escort.

This case, involved a sex worker who had both false and private information posted about her on the internet. She became the subject of a campaign of harassment, which included the tagging of dozens of pornographic videos with her name. The harassing posts also included references to her sexuality, to her sexual preferences as well as false claims that she was having unprotected sex.

This followed by further false allegations that she was an HIV/Aids positive. Cohen Davis brought the proceedings and an application for a privacy injunction on behalf of our client, who was also granted by the High Court a right to anonymity. She is only know as GYH. Our privacy lawyers took the legal proceedings against "persons unknown" as, despite extensive efforts, we were unable to prove on balance of probabilities the identity of our client’s harasser.

This information might still come to light in the future. Granting an interim privacy injunction, Mr Justice Warby, sitting at the London High Court said that a privacy injunction was "amply justified" to restrain continued harassment of GYH and the misuse of private information about her. The clear message that was sent by the court was that those individuals who provide sexual services are not excluded from a right to have their privacy protected, regardless of the fact that they might be advertising themselves as sex worker.

Mr Justice Warby added that although sex workers who advertised their services on the internet might place some private information in the public domain, to which they may have no reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to that or similar information, there is no question of a person waiving her right to privacy in a particular zone of her private life, merely by publicising some information falling within that zone. In other words, just become someone advertises themselves as sex workers, doesn’t mean that every aspect of sexuality or sex activity can be published without their consent.

In relation to posts online alleging that someone who provides escort services, practised unsafe sex and had contracted HIV/Aids, yet continued to work, there was no justification of allowing such posts to be publicised as long as the information was untrue. The judge added: "There is no public interest in the distribution of false information of this kind, nor is it reasonable to publish false allegations to this effect. On the contrary." Each year Cohen Davis handles dozens of cases involving harassment and breach of privacy of sex workers. The number of our clients who belong to this group is constantly increasing. Sex workers in the UK form part of a particularly volnurable group of individuals. The popularity of the internet in recent years has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of individuals who provide sexual services online and offline. This includes actresses, models, escorts, and prostitutes. There is also a growing number of individuals who take unfair advantage of volnurable sex workers.

Cohen Davis has represented dozens of sex workers and has obtained numerous privacy injunctions in their favour. In some cases, we have been able to facilitate removal of explicit material from the internet, have copyright to it transferred to our clients and obtain compensations for our clients for breach of their privacy and for the distress they have suffered.

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