Cheating Premier League footballer at centre of one-night stand blackmail plot should be named, says judge
A Premier League footballer at the centre of an alleged blackmail plot following a one night stand can be named a High Court judge has ruled.
The defender, who has a long term partner and child, had been granted an anonymity order after claiming a woman had demanded £100,000 to keep quiet about their sexual liaison.
But a judge has ruled that there are no grounds for his identity to be kept secret and has paved the way for him to be named.
The footballer has just ten days to make representations to the Court of Appeal but if his pleas fail his identity will be revealed.
Mr Justice Warby said if the star was not named it could lead to unjust speculation about other innocent footballers adding: “There is thus a degree of genuine public interest in ensuring that the story has an additional name attached to it.”
Problems began when the millionaire player met the woman, a fitness instructor in her 30s, at his Premiership club’s Christmas party last December.
The pair had a brief one night stand during which the woman performed a sex act on the player.
Despite not meeting again the footballer, who plays for his country, exchanged a number of explicit messages and pictures with the woman.
The woman then sold her story to a newspaper, prompting the footballer to seek an emergency order to keep his identity private.
But in addition he also told the court that she had attempted to blackmail him by demanding a fortune in “hush money”.
The woman vehemently denied the blackmail allegation insisting it was the footballer himself who offered her the money to keep quiet.
Her lawyer, Jacob Dean, told the High Court that when she had refused the money she had been “falsely branded a blackmailer” which had caused her “extreme distress”.
The player’s lawyer, William Bennett, claimed it would be a breach of the star's right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights for him to be named.
But the judge said the court had not been given all the facts, but had seen no evidence that the player was concerned about his privacy for his sexual conduct.
He said he felt the anonymity order had been driven by others adding that he felt “commercial motives” had played a considerable role.
The judge ruled that the anonymity order should be lifted and ordered him to pay the woman’s estimated £25,000 legal costs.
The judge said: “Although information about sexual life will generally be a prime candidate for protection , the sexual relationship here was fleeting and involved a single act.”
He added: “The limited extent of the relationship means that the interference with privacy that publication would involve is correspondingly limited.”
He went on: “I do not consider it likely that the claimant will establish at trial that the defendant blackmailed him.
“It can fairly be said, as it can of anyone selling personal information for publication that the defendant's conduct is unattractive.
“However assessing the case on the evidence now before the court the strong probability is that a court would find that the claimant's representatives decided to buy off the defendant , and sought to persuade her to name her price, and that her conduct did not amount to blackmail.”
The player has 10 days to apply direct to the Court of Appeal, after which point the anonymity order will be lifted.