Can superinjunctions survive the internet?

“Injunction-busting” Twitter accounts stepped into the spotlight over the weekend, and have successfully whipped up the building storm on social networks and internet forums – with a helping hand from the media.

Judges and lawyers across the country must be scratching their heads this morning, perhaps wondering how information can be restricted once it gets onto the internet, to be replicated over and over again, usually by members of the public who feel little of the legal threat hanging over newsrooms. The flow of free speech that the internet allows is breaking down previously unwavering barriers of control. What good are one nation’s laws when information flows across a global jurisdiction? It becomes impossible to take action against hundreds of Twitter users simply for retweeting an allegation that is a contempt of Court in England.

Recently names have been flying around social networks with users speculating about who has an injunction. Wikipedia was forced to take action when information relating to superinjuctions was posted on individual celebrity pages.

Both Gabby Logan and Jemima Khan have furiously denied allegations that they have taken out injunctions. A popular anti-injunction sentiment says that if secrecy continues, more innocent parties could fall victim to erroneous name-and-shame campaigns, while those hiding behind genuine injunctions remain unscathed.

Opinion seems largely split between those who see injunctions as necessary to protect the private lives of celebrities and public figures from the prying eyes of the tabloid press, and those who see any prior restraint on media stories as dangerous – whether it concerns the sex life of a footballer or the secret dealings of a multinational company. It’s safe to assume that the right to privacy created by the Human Rights Act wasn’t designed to protect the sexual indiscretions of the rich and famous, although that seems to be its primary role in the UK court system.

Celebrity sex lives may be none of our business and potentially cloud a ‘public interest’ defence for breaking injunctions, but they are a national fascination. The air of mystery surrounding potential splash stories has the public gagging for more details, whether people are happy to admit personal interest or not.

Journalists at the national newspapers are rubbing their hands with glee, and the Daily Mail and Telegraph in particular have sailed close to the wind with innuendo-laden comment pieces. The Daily Mail went so far as to put the injunction fiasco on their front page this morning.

While the media may be bound by the shackles of legal restraint, the internet remains beyond the control of English judges. The great debate is whether or not that is such a bad thing. As the uprisings in the Middle East show, free flows of information beyond the control of established authority can lead to surprising results.

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5 Responses to “Can superinjunctions survive the internet?”

  1. David Gerard says:

    I can’t wait until Z-list celebs start seeing superinjunctions as their best publicity value.

  2. Simon Stallwood says:

    Dear Heather,

    I started reading this page thinking that you might have a good point, but any good idea’s that you put foward were destroyed in a matter of seconds the moment you compaired the uprisings in the Middle East to celebrity sex lives by using freedom of information as the link between the two.

    I see nothing wrong with celebrities or anyone wanting to protect their private life for what ever reason, and so long as what they are trying to hide is not illegal then there is no reason why anyone should know what they do behind closed doors.

    What people don’t seem to understand is that these people don’t owe you anything, you may think that just because they parade around selling pictures of themselves to heat magazine or what ever trash the idiot masses read for that sort of thing. This is not a green light to know everthing there is no know about these people. They are doing a job, that’s how they earn money and these injunctions are a way they can help protect their jobs.

    Anyway, back on topic. Your whole argument falls apart very quickly when you are reminded of the well known saying ‘don’t belive everything you read on the Internet’. Everyone knows that in cyber space anyone can say anything, and most people can hide behind a wall of anonymity.
    With a news paper or a TV station, someone can be held accountable for what is said, but this is not the case online.

    If I wanted I could start a twitter and say that Heather Brooke likes to sexually pleasure animals. I could do that right now, there is nothing stopping me. I could mask my computers IP address and I would be untraceable.

    So remember, everyone has the right to protect their private lives and their jobs, famous or not.

  3. Dear Heather,

    Have you not come across injunctions issued to cover up child abuse or other white collar crimes (yet)? People who have been made bankrupt fraudulently get ‘civil restraint orders’ and are labelled ‘vexatious litigant’.

    Are sex and celebrity really so much more fascinating than the shame one must feel about knowing that judges prefer to cover up child abusers than rule in favour of an abused child and her pregnant mother?

    Thank god, John Hemming MP got the gag removed from Vicky Haigh. But today it got renewed for Liz Watson who uncovered the wrong-doings! Imagine Liz going to prison for sending emails about Vicky Haigh’s torture and torment!!!

    More on http://bit.ly/ilofGe

    Sighingly yours,

    in admiration for your writing!

    Sabine

  4. OldRaver says:

    simon says

    “So remember, everyone has the right to protect their private lives and their jobs, famous or not.”

    BUT only the rich can afford to – that’s the point!

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