Echo barred from making further Cream revelations

Dickinson: "The judge was wrong"

The Liverpool Echo has been gagged from publishing revelations about world-famous nightclub Cream.

A High Court judge has granted Cream an injunction stopping the publication of articles based on information from its former accounts and finance manager, Chumki Banerjee.

But the Echo has been granted leave to appeal against the decision, and Lord Justice Robert Walker said the appeal would have some real prospect of success.

Editor Mark Dickinson said: "This is an important principle of press freedom. We have information which we firmly believe it is in the public interest to publish.

"In our view, the judge was wrong to grant this injunction and we have a powerful case to put before the Court of Appeal."

Under the terms of the injunction, the Echo is barred from giving any detail of the allegations. However, Cream told the High Court it was worried that publication by the Echo of Banerjee’s claims would deter investors from putting money into the club, which recently scrapped its once hugely popular Saturday dance nights after a sharp decline in customers.

In June, Liverpool City Council licensing officer Bill Wadkin and Cream director Stuart Davenport were arrested after the Echo passed the council a dossier on an investigation based on documents shown to the newspaper by Banerjee.

The documents revealed Wadkin claimed £833 – the first instalment of an alleged £10,000 fee – for unauthorised consultancy work for Cream. He and Davenport are on police bail while detectives continue their inquiries into an alleged corrupt relationship between them. They both deny any wrongdoing. There is no evidence that any of the other Cream directors knew of their arrangement.

The Echo wanted to publish details of unrelated information about Cream arising from other documents copied by Banerjee.

In his evidence to the High Court, Cream’s chief operating officer, James King, said the club was in negotiations with a large entertainment company for a big investment into Cream’s business of staging major events.

He claimed the entertainment company and any other potential future investors would be put off from investing by what he described as any further "negative publicity" beyond the story of alleged corruption.

He also identified other potential losses to Cream because events to be staged by the club might be put in jeopardy.

One of the Echo’s arguments was that disclosure of Banerjee’s allegations was justified in the public interest to correct a "false public image".

Granting leave to appeal, Lord Justice Walker said: "The appeal raises issues under the Human Rights Act 1998 of general importance."

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