More on Super-Injunctions and “the footballer who must not be named” »

“the footballer who must not be named”


The Super-Injunction really is the hot legal topic at the moment, I guess because it has all the ingredients for public interest – money, scandal,  rumour, speculation, “us versus them”. What really made me smile in this report on “the footballer who must not be named” proposed action against Tweeters was this quote from lawyer Graham Shear: “obviously somebody has acted in breach of a court order, which has a penal notice and therefore it is an unlawful act to tweet this information.”


This creates a Catch-22 situation – the whole purpose of the super-injunction is that the existence of the injunction itself is kept a secret.  So how would you or I know what the injunction prohibits if we are not allowed to know it exists, let alone read it?


Can it be right that someone unaware of the contents of an injunction can be prosecuted under it?  Surely only if it is brought to your notice can it be held against you?


Fair enough if it turns out that the person who started the Twitter rumour mill was someone who was given notice of the injunction, because to act in breach of an injunction to put information into the public domain to then argue the injunction should be lifted because the information is already in the public domain is an abuse of the legal process.


But it would seem to me that to use the law to try to stop gossip and rumour generally is a step too far.


The problem is, of course, that the privacy laws in this country were made long before social media took off and Judges have to apply the law in force as best they can in today’s age.


As David Cameron says, it seems mad that print media cannot publish things which are common knowledge in the virtual world.


Perhaps a review by Parliament will show that new laws are needed which can properly address the modern concerns, but quite how they can be enforced out of the jurisdiction I have no idea. This is why the Scottish newspaper published details of “the footballer who must not be named”, saying that the laws of England and Wales do not apply to them.


These developments come on the back of the report last week by the “Committee on Super-Injunctions” which concluded that there was not a lot wrong with the current system save that interested media should be informed in advance about injunction applications which affect them.


It would seem that the report itself is already out of date as the consensus now appears to be that a radical rethink is needed to have a workable, enforceable, and consistent approach.


It remains to be seen how this will pan out, but in the meantime it gives me plenty of material to blog about.  What will I fill my pages up with when sports stars and celebrities no longer misbehave and then try to keep it secret?  But then again, that’s not very likely, is it?






Leave a Reply