BP chief loses privacy battle against Mail on Sunday - Press Gazette

BP chief loses privacy battle against Mail on Sunday

BP chief executive Lord Browne has lost his legal battle to prevent publication of details about his relationship with another man.

Lord Browne, 59, who is due to step down in July, went all the way to the House of Lords to try to stop Associated Newspapers running a story about him and Canadian Jeff Chevalier, his former partner of four years.

He claimed that most of the allegations were false or misleading and they were matters about which he had a reasonable expectation of privacy as they were communicated to journalists by Chevalier in breach of a duty of confidence arising from an intimate personal relationship.

The disclosure of the relationship follows the refusal by the House of Lords today to grant Lord Browne permission to appeal against earlier rulings which followed private hearings in the High Court and the Court of Appeal in January and March.

A full picture of the affair appears in High Court judge Mr Justice Eady's judgment, which can now be released, in which he held that the publication of some, but not all, of the matters alleged should not be injuncted.

He recounted how, between 2002 and 2006, Chevalier adopted Lord Browne's lifestyle and was provided by him with food, travel, clothes and accommodation at a fairly luxurious level.

In addition, Lord Browne also made substantial payments to him over the period in cash or by cheque.

The judge said that their relationship became fairly widely known although no mention of it was made in the media.

It was significant that Chevalier accompanied Lord Browne at various social events and on trips, including events connected with Lord Browne's business activities.

Lord Browne took various steps to enable Chevalier, whose visa was due to run out early on in the relationship, to remain in the country.

This included paying for a university course from 2003 so that he would acquire student status and helping him to set up a company to trade in mobile phone ring tones.

When the relationship ended, Chevalier found himself in financial difficulties and having to adjust to a drastically reduced lifestyle.

Chevalier said Lord Browne provided him with funds towards a 12-month lease on a Toronto flat and furnishings.

He also claimed that Lord Browne agreed "that if needed, (he) would assist in the first year of me transitioning from living in multimillion-pound homes around the world, flying in private jets, five-star hotels, £2,000 suits, and so on to a less than modest life in Canada."

He said his plight was compounded by the fact that he had left his career path in the IT field when he was effectively being "kept" by Lord Browne.

The judge said Chevalier sought further financial assistance towards the end of last year, saying that he was facing hunger and homelessness.

He asked for some assistance backed by what the judge said could be interpreted – although Chevalier denied it – as a "thinly-veiled threat".

"It then appears that Chevalier, shortly afterwards, decided to go to the press and 'spill the beans' in various ways."