GYH v PERSONS UNKNOWN  EWHC 3360 (QB)
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Cohen Davis Solicitors acting for the Claimant
Being a sex worker and advertising yourself as such on the internet does not mean you can't have a private life, says judge as Cohen Davis obtains a privacy injunction for its escort client.
The client, who advertised herself as an escort hadn’t lost her right to keep information in relation to her sexuality private. 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 known 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.
In yet another ground-breaking case, Cohen Davis’ team has obtained one of our most important judgements of this year, whilst securing a privacy injunction for a client we care much about who works as a London Escort. Different people will find the judgement in this case significant for different reasons. If you are a business owner, or work in a business, it means that there should be a separation between your private life and your work life so far as the internet publications are concerned even if on occasions the two aspects of your life may overlap.
Those who provide personal services don’t necessarily have to compromise their right to private life, even if they advertise some aspects of their private life to support their commercial activities. In the case of GYH v PERSONS UNKNOWN, which involved a sex worker who had both false and private information posted about her on the internet, the judge also agreed that there was no public interest in having false information about someone published online, even if that information directly relates to the services the person provides to the public.
GYH became the subject of a campaign of harassment, which included, among other things, 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. These are private matters even in relation to someone who is a sex worker. This followed by further false allegations that she was an HIV/Aids positive. Again, the court agreed that matters concerning one’s health are private matters unless there was a clear public interest in those matters being made public. Granting the 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 because someone advertises themselves as sex workers, doesn’t mean that every aspect of their sexuality or sexual activity can be published without their consent. You can read the full judgement in the privacy injunction case of GYH v PERSONS UNKNOWN here.