PRIVACY – Injunctions: Court lifts rape arrest reporting ban

The High Court in London has overturned an injunction which prevented UK media from reporting the London arrest of billionaire US tech investor Shervin Pishevar on suspicion of rape.

On 27 May 2017, Pishevar, who is a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Democratic Party supporter was arrested at The Ned, a luxury hotel in the City of London, on suspicion of rape.
He vehemently denied any wrongdoing and was never charged. The Police said that they had ‘insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, therefore no further action was taken against the suspect’.

Pishevar sought an injunction in England and Wales to stop The Sun from reporting the arrest. The Sun then provided him with undertakings not to report the story until trial.

In early November of this year, information about the case was reported in the US, when Pishevar began a legal claim against a Republican research firm, Definers Public Affairs. The claim alleges that the firm spread a series of smears about him, including that he is a friend of Vladimir Putin and a Russian agent. The alleged smears extend to allegations of sexual misconduct, including the suggestion that Pishevar had paid off the complainant following his London arrest. The firm has, through a partner, dismissed Pishevar’s claims about its activities as ‘delusional’.

Pishevar also issued a statement about the arrest through his American attorney, saying that he was innocent of all allegations and had been released by the police without charge. The reporting of his claim and statement in the US prompted an urgent application by News Group, publishers of The Sun, to lift the injunction. Pishevar consented, presumably in part because it was futile to continue the restriction on reporting in this jurisdiction when extensive reporting of the allegations by US media was available online.

Reporting by The Sun, The Times and other newspapers and media outlets in this jurisdiction followed the lifting of the injunction. Pishevar’s London solicitors noted that the reporting restrictions no longer applied because the injunction had been lifted by consent. They also complained about reporting of a purported Police report from City of London Police of the events leading to the arrest, which it had later emerged was fabricated. The case is a further development in the emerging phenomenon of privacy claims being brought in relation to reports of arrests or other dealings with the Police.