The judgement given today on Ms Carina Trimingham's rights to privacy is said to have parallels with the salacious reporting of former President Bill Clinton's affair with his intern Monica Lewinsky back in the late 1990s. Hmmm. It wasn't as if Chris Huhne was the most powerful man in the world, or nearly so well-known. Still, you can see a sort of similarity. The point seems to be that close association with a public figure makes a girl public property. She then loses rights to privacy, because she is too close in some way to the man in the public eye.
Very disturbing, this notion! Ms Trimingham was having an affair that involved sex, and some of the press photos on the Daily Mail website make the point that from certain angles she has legs that any red-blooded male would tear up a marriage for. Equally, and I am not being catty, from some other angles she seems a little plain; but then her personality does not sing out in these shots, and, as we all know, personality is most of it. And not legs.
But supposing she had merely been an acquaintance? Genuinely a colleague and no more? Would that kind of non-sexual association with Mr Huhne warrant press interest?
And what if the association was completely accidental? A reporter sees a lady speaking to Mr Huhne on a train from (say) Birmingham to London - a couple of hours chatting together - and they seem to be smiling and generally behaving in a friendly fashion. As anyone might if they fall into conversation on a journey, and find that it goes well. Should that reporter follow her after they get off the train, find out who she is, tap her phone maybe, just in case there's a story there?
What if I or you found ourselves seated next to Mr Huhne (or any politician, or indeed anybody well-known)? One of my biggest fears is unknowingly standing or sitting next to a famous sports personality (whom I'd not recognise, not caring two hoots about sport), and next day finding myself in the middle of press reports that 'So-and-so Gets Haughty Cold Shoulder From New Flame'. Or worse, 'New Tranny Flame', because even the teaboy at The Daily Tabloid would find this blog if given reason to look. And then, despite the Leveson Inquiry, I'd become oppressed by press interest. It could ruin my caravan holiday.
One other little detail on the Trimingham court case: she has to pay £250,000 in court costs for losing. OK, she's said to be insured. But someone will have to pay out this eye-watering sum, and a team of legal bods will rake it in. And eventually, as it will be their income, HMRC will have its 45%. And so quite a lot of this will flow back to the Treasury, and eventually be channelled into the pot from which MPs salaries are paid. Funny, this flow of money from here to there. All because a woman felt harrassed by press attention, and decided to challenge what was, and was not, to be regarded as 'in the public interest'.