Friday, 5 November 2010

Privacy: John Terry, and the rise of the super-injunction

Super-injunctions are gagging orders taken out when one media company has a story that, the subject believes, infringes their privacy, in order to gag all media outlets.
Publications can't even say that a super-injunction is in place.

In this module of our law masterclass, which you can find in full at, Duncan Lamont says: “The law was you couldn’t get an injunction, an order to prevent publication, with libel, so it was publish and be damned. Editors got used to not facing injunctions because they could say 'I believe what I am going to publish is true'.
“However, with the development  of privacy, and that aspect of confidentiality, the fact that a story is true and libelous, or made up and therefore incapable of being libelous but still private, meant that celebrities started going to the courts in increasing numbers to get injunctions.
"Now, that's not a super-injunction, that’s a mere injunction to stop publication of a particular story.
“A super-injunction stops anyone ever saying there was even an injunction. That there even is a reason that we should be interested in footballer X or politician Y.

The John Terry super-injunction case

The most prominent super-injunction was the one initially granted to then England football captain John Terry when he  heard rumours that a Sunday newspaper was intending to publish details of an alleged extra-marital affair.
The super-injunction was soon removed when, as The Telegraph reported: “Mr Justice Tugendhat decided he should lift a temporary gagging order he had granted which prevented the media from reporting that the £150,000-a-week footballer had conducted an extra-marital affair with the ex-girlfriend of his England team-mate Wayne Bridge.
“The injunction ... had been heavily criticised as the latest example of the courts bringing in a privacy law by the back door.”
As Duncan says in the clips, the granting of super-injunctions " many people believe, led to injustices."
But super-injunctions continue to be granted. Stephen Glover, in his Independent column wrote on October 4 2010:

"More injunctions to shield the famous and wealthy

"Two more secret injunctions have been handed down. The first involves a fabulously wealthy married man who is a well-known public figure. He has won a gagging order to prevent details of an affair being made public because he says it would distress his family. A second case concerns a television star, who has obtained an order preventing his ex-wife publishing an account of their relationship, which includes an allegation that they had an affair after he remarried.
"I know the names of the two gentlemen, but am not allowed to tell you. Would it be in the public interest for their names to be known? That is a judgement you cannot make without knowing the facts. Judges have decided for you. In the second case I would have thought that the television star's new wife might like to be put in the picture."
Roy Greenslade, in his Guardian blog, took up the story, saying:

"Why no campaign against super-injunctions?

"Rightly, Stephen Glover points today to the fact that "two more secret injunctions have been handed down... to shield the famous and wealthy."
"He is, like the rest of the British-based journalistic community, unable to tell the public their names even though he knows them.
"I agree that people should be able to prevent publication about their private lives if they can convince a judge that there is no justifiable public interest.
The details of the claims should also remain secret (of course). But the fact of a person taking legal action should not be concealed from the public.
"I wonder why more newspapers are not kicking up a great fuss about these super-injunctions this time around.
"For example, why is The Sun - which loves to hold aloft the banner of press freedom - not campaigning against the gag that prevents us knowing the identity of a television star who has prevented his ex-wife publishing an account of their relationship?"

For more from Duncan Lamont on super-injunctions, go​node/​1105
For the full Law Update Masterclass, go here:​node/​1096

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