Judgment reserved in rapist application


The High Court has reserved judgment on an application by a serial rapist for an injunction preventing a number of newspapers publishing his address and pictures of him pending the outcome of his full court challenge to their actions.

Michael Murray (50), who was released from prison last year after serving 13 years for raping four women over a six day period in 1995, says he cannot live or work anywhere because, as soon as he moves, the papers reveal his address and print pictures of him.

He also claims the actions of the defendants have adversely affected his efforts to engage with a rehabilitation programme.

He wants an injunction stopping the Evening Herald, the Daily Star, the Star on Sunday, the News of the World and the Sun from publishing photos of him, his location, travel arrangements and place of employment pending his full action.

He is claiming damages for for mental pain, distress and anguish caused by interference with his rights to privacy and to maintain a permanent dwelling as protected by the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Murray said he wants to continue his rehabilitation, which began while he was in prison, and “to live my life and hopefully integrate back into society.”

The injunction hearing began yesterday. Following final legal submissions on behalf of Mr Murray yesterday, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said she hoped to give her decision within two weeks.

The newspapers had argued the effect of granting the orders sought was to render him unique in the jurisdiction in terms of what the media could publish about him.

Unless one could define with precision the level of privacy a serial rapist enjoys under our laws, it was impossible to construct an injunction that would be specific and precise enough to be complied with by any responsible party who is subject to it, the papers argued.

Closing the case for Mr Murray today, Paul O’Higgins SC said, while the papers had argued the publicity was in the public interest to prevent him re-offending, it had to be asked was the public interest better served by allowing him to have a home and build a life.

The balance of convenience favoured granting the injunction because while it was possible to postpone freedom of expression, it was not possible to “unscramble the egg” in relation to a person’s privacy, counsel said.

This was not an attempt to interfere with freedom of expression because the press could say what they liked about Mr Murray, this was about the use of the address and photo and the way it was used, counsel added.

People were entitled not to have their address used for no reason at all and, in Mr Murray’s case, it was more than that, counsel said. This involved “leering and sneering and giving the two fingers of hate-filled gestures of intrusion” on his privacy.