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Reference Application No.39954/08 Court European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber) Judge Nicolas Bratza P, Costa, Tulkens, Casadevall, Garlicki, Lorenzen, Jungwiert, Jaeger, Björgvinsson, Šikuta, Villiger, Guerra, Trajkovska, Tsotsoria, Kalaydjieva, Poalelungi & Pardalos JJ Date of Judgment The applicant (X), a German television actor, was well-known for his role from 1998 to 2003 as Police Superintendent Y, the hero of a popular television series broadcast on a private television channel in the evening until 2005.
On 23 September 2004, X was arrested at the Munich beer festival for possession of cocaine.
The judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal and in November 2006, by the Federal Court of Justice.
In relation to the second article, the Hamburg Court of Appeal upheld the Hamburg Regional Court’s injunction in September 2006 on essentially the same grounds as those given in relation to the first article.
Likewise, when the second article appeared, the facts leading to X’s conviction were already known to the public.
It had not been shown that the applicant company had acted in bad faith when publishing the articles in question.
The definition of what constitutes a subject of general interest will depend on the circumstances of the case.
The Court nevertheless considered it useful to point out that it had recognised the existence of such an interest not only where the publication concerned political issues or crimes.
Notwithstanding the applicant’s company unfounded assertion that a press conference had been held and a press release issued prior to the publication of the first article, all of the information revealed by the applicant company had been confirmed by the prosecutor.Whilst it could be said that the public does generally make a distinction between an actor and the character he or she plays, the fact that X was mainly known for his role as Superintendent Y, whose mission was law enforcement and crime prevention, was such as to increase the public’s interest in being informed of X’s arrest for a criminal offence.Having regard to these factors, X was sufficiently well known to qualify as a public figure.Not only does the press have the duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest – including court proceedings – the public also has a right to receive them.(b) The Court reiterated that the right to protection of reputation is a right which is protected by Article 8 as part of the right to respect for private life.