The front page headline of the new National Enquirer, now on newsstands in the States, declares: “Elton John Betrayed by Cheating Husband!” Over 3 pages the US tabloid reports how lawyers for Elton John claim David Furnish did not have an affair because the singer knew about his extra-marital relationship. Elton has used an injunction to block publication of the exposé in Britain essentially on the basis that he does not want his children to see it. Understandable, however should it be his legal right?
Here is a summary of the story:
The Enquirer reports that British businessman Daniel Laurence claims he had three encounters with Furnish, including one that involved “risky sex”. Elton’s lawyers deny Furnish had unprotected sex with Laurence. The unprotected sex allegation is particularly damaging because Furnish helps run Elton’s AIDS Foundation. According to the Enquirer, Furnish and Laurence began exchanging messages online in 2008 and hooked up in March 2009 at the Mayfair Hotel in London. Furnish “wanted me to penetrate him and was very demanding and specific about this,” Laurence said in an affidavit obtained by the tabloid: “We did have unprotected sex.”
The two men continued to communicate online — and saw each other again at an event in Palm Springs — but did not have sex again until April 2010. Laurence alleges the tryst took place in the London home Furnish shares with Elton John. The Enquirer published a Facebook chat it claims is between Furnish and Laurence. In it, Furnish asks Laurence about having a threesome. “I am getting hard thinking about it,” Furnish allegedly wrote, “I have to be sooooooo careful.” The threesome, which allegedly took place at the home of Laurence in December 2011, involved wrestling in a pool of olive oil. Laurence also alleged that Furnish was “into being tied up and dominated.” The Enquirer article comes only days after news that Elton John is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former bodyguard. Jeffrey Wenninger alleges the singer groped him and encouraged him to show his penis.
Yesterday the Sunday Mail in Scotland published the story because it is (like Guido) outside the jurisdiction of the injunction. Our readers are not that interested in threesomes involving middle-aged gay men – unless they are in politics. Nevertheless there is an important principle at stake: should press freedom be curtailed by the rich on the grounds that they don’t want their children to be embarrassed? Guido has lots of online embarrassments soon to be discovered on the internet by his Google-savvy young children. As much as he would prefer to cover it all up, this protection would be a risky curtailment of press freedom. If Elton and David don’t want their children to think less of them, don’t do it. The whole thing is made even more ridiculous given millions of Americans and thousands of Scots have read the story. All the injunction is doing is making lawyers richer.
This case is not a serious criminal matter, however there is no doubt that the likes of Dominic Strauss-Kahn have used privacy laws to cover-up much more serious wrongdoing. Fear of public exposure is about the only way we can restrain wrongdoing by the rich and the powerful…