Super Injunctions

 Granting super powers to rich gaggers



17th October
2009
  

Updated: Super Injunctions...


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Attempt to prevent Guardian publishing parliamentary proceedings fails

The Guardian An unprecedented attempt by a British oil trading firm to prevent the Guardian reporting parliamentary proceedings collapsed following a spontaneous online campaign to spread the information the paper had been barred from publishing.

Carter-Ruck, the law firm representing Trafigura, was accused of infringing the supremacy of parliament after it insisted that an injunction obtained against the Guardian prevented the paper from reporting a question tabled on Monday by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly.

Farrelly's question was about the implications for press freedom of an order obtained by Trafigura preventing the Guardian and other media from publishing the contents of a report related to the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast.

The Guardian was prevented from identifying Farrelly, reporting the nature of his question, where the question could be found, which company had sought the gag, or even which order was constraining its coverage.

But overnight numerous users of the social networking site Twitter posted details of Farrelly's question and by this morning the full text had been published on two prominent blogs as well as in the magazine Private Eye.

Carter-Ruck withdrew its gagging attempt by lunchtime, shortly before a 2pm high court hearing at which the Guardian was about to challenge its stance, with the backing of other national newspapers.

MPs from all three major parties condemned the firm's attempt to prevent the reporting of parliamentary proceedings. Farrelly told John Bercow, the Speaker : Yesterday, I understand, Carter-Ruck quite astonishingly warned of legal action if the Guardian reported my question. In view of the seriousness of this, will you accept representations from me over this matter and consider whether Carter-Ruck's behaviour constitutes a potential contempt of parliament?

The Commons question reveals that Trafigura has obtained a hitherto secret injunction, known as a super-injunction , to prevent disclosures about toxic oil waste it arranged to be dumped in west Africa in 2006, making thousands of people ill. Farrelly is asking Jack Straw, the justice secretary, about the implications for press freedom of a high court injunction obtained on 11 September 2009 by Trafigura on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura :

61 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura. (293006)

62 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years. (293012)

63 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what mechanisms HM Court Service uses to draw up rosters of duty judges for the purpose of considering time of the essence applications for the issuing of injunctions by the High Court.

How super-injunctions are used to gag investigative reporting

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Injunctions have become one of the most effective tools powerful individuals and corporations reach for when they want to silence the media. In their simplest form, they prevent news organisations from reporting what happens in court, usually on the basis that doing so could prejudice a trial.

Super-injunctions that prevent news organisations from revealing the identities of those involved in legal disputes, or even reporting the fact that reporting restrictions have been imposed, have emerged recently. They grew out of family cases and then developed further as a result of the privacy law that has come into being in the UK on the back of the right to privacy enshrined in the 1998 Human Rights Act, itself based on the European convention on human rights.

That law has evolved through a series of high court rulings and was used by Max Mosley, the Formula One chief, last year to win damages from the News of the World when it revealed details about his sex life. But this privacy law, welcomed by some as a way of protecting against tabloid intrusion, has further boosted the use of injunctions whose terms of reference are far wider than ever before.

Libel lawyers Carter-Ruck and Schillings have proved adept at persuading judges that injunctions should now be granted on privacy grounds. Some tabloid newspapers are being served with a handful of such orders each week, according to media lawyers. The Guardian has been served with at least 12 notices of injunctions that could not be reported so far this year, compared with six in the whole of 2006 and five the year before.

Update: Injunction Lifted

17th October 2009. Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

Old Bailey A suppressed report which details how an oil company dumped toxic waste in Africa that may cause serious burns has now been released following a parliamentary row over freedom of speech.

The study commissioned just weeks after the incident in West Africa concluded that the dumping would have been illegal under European pollution laws and suggests that the likely cause of the illness reported by locals was the significant release of potentially lethal gas.

The report had been kept secret after Trafigura, one of the world's largest independent oil trading firms, obtained a super injunction that threatened the centuries-old privilege of newspapers to report what MPs can say freely in the Commons.

On Friday night, as the High Court gagging order was lifted, senior figures at Trafigura admitted their approach may have been heavy-handed and insisted it had not been their intention to try to gag Parliament.

 

22nd October
2009
  

Update: Thank Evan...

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Criminal libel, obscene libel and seditious libel to be abolished

House of Commons logo Index on Censorship and English PEN welcomed MPs' robust response in an adjournment debate to law firm Carter-Ruck's challenge to Parliamentary reporting, and called on them to strengthen the public's right to information by banning the use of so-called super injunctions except in extreme circumstances.

Jo Glanville, Editor of Index on Censorship, said: The widespread use of super injunctions is a serious threat to media freedom in this country - and to the fabric of open democracy. It is essential that this debate marks the beginning of reform, so that individuals and companies are no longer free to gag the press and prevent information that's clearly in the public interest from coming under scrutiny.

Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, said: The rights of Parliament are the rights of citizens. Unless Parliament is free to debate everything that MPs believe to be important, it can't do its job properly. And unless the public is free to know what Parliament is talking about, we have closed government. Super injunctions compromise democracy and should be banned, except in extreme circumstances.

MPs from the three main parties voiced their concerns about super injunctions and the impact of English libel law on free speech in an adjournment debate called by Evan Harris MP in the wake of the Trafigura affair, in which the law firm Carter-Ruck argued that a super-injunction prevented the media from reporting on a Parliamentary question asked by Paul Farrelly MP.

During the debate, Denis MacShane MP called for the partners of Carter-Ruck to be called to the Bar of the House of Commons to account for their attempts to subvert Parliamentary democracy.

MPs commended the work of Evan Harris, English PEN and Index on Censorship in raising awareness of the failings of English libel law.

David Heath MP asked the government to confirm that the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840, which grants the media the right to report on everything in Parliament, is still in force.

Responding to the debate, Bridget Prentice, Minister for Justice, said: It is not possible to fetter Parliament . She confirmed that the advice given by Carter-Ruck in their letter of 14 October to the Speaker was incorrect. She said: we are very concerned that super injunctions are being used more frequently, especially in libel. And she confirmed that the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 was still in force.

Prentice promised further guidelines on the use of super injunctions and agreed that defamation law needs to be tightened up . She stated that the government would abolish the antiquated laws of criminal libel, obscene libel and seditious libel in an amendment to the Coroners & Justice Bill in response to pressure by Index on Censorship, Article 19 and English PEN.

 

27th October
2009
  

Update: Leading by Example...

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Campaigners hoping for end to criminal libel claim success in the House of Lords

House of Lords logo Freedom of speech campaigners are claiming victory as the House of Lords is expected to back changes removing anachronistic laws which have criminalised libel for more than 700 years.

The changes, which will be debated as part of the controversial coroners and justice bill, repeal laws dating back to 1275 and allow extremely serious libel and sedition to be prosecuted in criminal courts. The laws have long been regarded as an impediment to freedom of speech and an anomaly in the UK, which has encouraged countries with repressive regimes not to conduct prosecutions for libel.

Agnes Callamard, executive director of campaign group Article 19, said: This will send a very strong and clear signal globally that democracies do not have criminal defamation laws. The government's admission that the law, which has been widely recognised as hampering freedom of press and political dissent, must change comes after increasing concern about clampdowns in other countries, including many states in Europe and the Commonwealth.

These common law offences are anachronistic and their continuing existence, albeit seldom used, has been cited by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws, which have been actively used to restrict media freedom, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: The UK is committed to encouraging other countries to recognise and respect freedom of expression and the media must take the lead in abolishing these out-of-date offences.

There is also a debate about whether to extend changes to the law on blasphemous libel to Northern Ireland, where offensive remarks about the Christian church remain an offence.

There is now a grotesque situation in Ireland, said Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester QC. In the Republic of Ireland, there has been a rebirth of the offence of blasphemous libel for domestic constitution reasons, and in Northern Ireland we have not yet managed to get rid of it. God no more needs to be protected by criminal law in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain.

The government denied it was considering extending the repeal of blasphemous libel to Northern Ireland. The government believes that the Northern Ireland assembly is the best forum to consider this area of law as it relates to Northern Ireland, the Ministry of Justice said.

 

1st February
2010
  

Offsite: Superinjunctivitus...

Could Trafigura and Terry signal the demise of the superinjunction?

Libel Reform Campaign logo It is a measure of how deeply the Trafigura fiasco affected the public psyche that much of the anger (and humour) directed at footballer John Terry online on Twitter and other social networks concerned his legal representatives Schillings' use of a superinjunction, rather than his alleged extra-curricular activities.

...Read full article

 

20th November
2010
  

Update: Take That!...

Howard Donald superinjunction lifted

Howard Donald Celebrity Party Mask A superinjunction banning new organisations from naming Take That singer Howard Donald has been lifted by the Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, Lord Justice Kay and Lord Justice Sedley, but an order banning a former girlfriend, singer Adakini Ntuli, from selling her story is still in place.

The initial injunction was granted earlier this year by Mr Justice Eady.

Superinjunctions have a disastrous effect on free expression, said John Kampfner, Index on Censorship's Chief Executive. Celebrities are increasingly pursuing privacy actions in order to dictate what is published about them.

 

22nd March
2011
  

Offsite: Hyper Injunctions...

Courts gag people from even speaking to MPs

Old Bailey It all started with the reporting of an injunction, supposedly obtained by former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive, preventing him being identified as a banker . A mildly interesting story, made marginally more so by the fact that the injunction had been breached by an MP during a Parliamentary debate.

But there is more to the story. As bloggers Anna Raccoon, Charon QC and Obiter J have reported, on a Parliamentary debate on Thursday the same Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, revealed the details of a number of other (what he called) hyper injunctions. The common feature was that courts had ordered not only that the parties to litigation were to be prevented from revealing details of their cases to the public, but also to their MPs.

...Read the full article

Update: Not So New

22nd March 2011. See  article from  guardian.co.uk , thanks to pbr

Behold, then, a new innovation: what Hemming calls the hyper-injunction. This double-secret form of super-injunction, unveiled only recently by the MP, specifically bars a person from discussing something with members of Parliament, journalists and lawyers , except for his own defence lawyers.

Its effectiveness is clearly demonstrated by the fact that it's not new at all: the hyper-injunction Hemmings referred to -- concerning allegations to do with ships' drinking water tanks being coated with toxic paint -- dated from 2006, and we're only just hearing about it.

 

4th April
2011
  

Offsite: Hyper-Secrecy...

New gagging orders stretch right into the heart of parliament

Henry PorterWays have to be found to guarantee privacy and provide protection from malicious allegations, but these oppressive court orders are not the answer

The revelation by the Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming of a new breed of hyperinjunction , which forbids the recipient talking about it to MPs, is one of the most disturbing developments in the contest between legitimate privacy and the need for open justice.

In an age when accusations can be made anonymously on the internet, ways have to be found to guarantee privacy and provide protection from malicious allegations, but these oppressive court orders are not the answer. As the Times said, there are at least 30 orders blocking publicity in high-profile cases, as well as a new type of order -- the hyperinjunction -- which affects parliamentary privilege by preventing discussion between an MP and his constituent.

...Read the full article

 

18th April
2011
  

Update: Selling Justice...

John Hemming highlights another case of super gagging

Old BaileyA new breed of gagging order is preventing miscarriages of justice from being investigated, according to an MP campaigning against secrecy in Britain's courts.

John Hemming said the rising tide of injunctions granted by the courts threatened to contravene the Magna Carta. The MP has launched an inquiry into excessive and unlawful court secrecy and will put his evidence before the Commons Justice Select Committee.

The new order to which he refers involves a pregnant woman caught up in a High Court battle with her local authority. The order threatens her with imprisonment if she speaks to the media about her case. Journalists could also face jail for asking questions about the case.

Hemming said: This goes a step further than preventing people speaking out against injustice. It also puts any investigative journalist at risk if they ask any questions of a victim of a potential miscarriage of justice.

I call this the 'Quaero injunction', after the Latin word 'to seek'. I don't think this should be allowed in English courts. It has the effect of preventing journalists from speaking to people subject to this injunction without a risk of the journalist going to jail. That is a recipe for hiding miscarriages of justice.

Hemming is collecting examples of such orders to place before the Justice Select Committee. He said: What is clear is that almost all of the super-- and hyperinjunctions have no public judgment. That means they are not compliant with the rules of a fair trial. It is wrong to have a system whereby people can buy the sort of justice they want. That is a contravention of the Magna Carta. Clause 29 of the Magna Carta states that we will sell to no man ... either justice or right .

 

21st April
2011
  

Update: Celebrity Judge...

Yet another gagging order with an even more far reaching scope

Old BaileyA High Court judge has issued an unprecedented gagging order in an attempt to prevent details of a television star's private life being published, even on the internet.

Mr Justice Eady, who has been at the centre of most recent controversial libel and privacy cases, made the injunction against the world rather than just against national newspapers and broadcasters.

His order seeks to prevent the publication of intimate photographs of a married public figure after a woman tried to sell them for a large sum of money .

The judge said the woman owed the unidentified claimant a duty of confidence and breaching his privacy would damage the health of the man and his family.

His order is intended to cover discussion of the case online as well as in traditional media, despite the difficulties in enforcing it.

The injunction contra mundum is intended to be never-ending and, as its Latin name suggests, applies to the entire world.

It is understood that it is the first time that such an order has been granted in a privacy case.

The ruling takes secrecy laws to a new level, marking a further advance in the steps the courts are prepared to take to protect high-profile figures and to restrict the right to freedom of expression.

 

23rd April
2011
  

Update: Old Firm Censors...

Scottish Labour and Greens call for more internet censorship of football sectarianism

james kellyScottish Labour has called for more censorship of sectarian internet sites.

It was noted that there have been no prosecutions in recent years in connection with the internet bile that attaches itself to Rangers and Celtic.

Solicitor General Frank Mulholland has indicated that such offences will soon be punishable by up to five years in prison.

But Labour's community safety spokesman James Kelly said:

It's clear from recent days that there are still instances of online campaigns which are sectarian in nature and are unacceptable.

As well as condemning that behaviour, the authorities should be doing all in their power to try and clamp down on that. The job for a future parliament is to look at the laws around the internet and examine whether they're tough enough or not - and if they're not, look to beef those up.

It's not just a case of saying that these online campaigns are unacceptable and we want the authorities to act. We must ensure that the authorities have got the appropriate tools in legislation at their disposal to clamp down on this.

Two youth footballers with Scottish senior clubs have been dismissed in recent days over online comments. Max McKee, an under-19 player with Clyde, was sacked after posting on Twitter: Somebody needs to hurry up and shoot Neil Lennon. Berwick Rangers youth player Keiran Bowell was dismissed for an online post which said he wished Lennon had been killed.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said ISPs and hosting companies must take the same degree of responsibility as newspapers or magazine publishers in policing their content: If an ISP or a hosting company is having their service abused, or is allowing it to be abused in that way, they need to take action to cut people off.

See  article from  independent.co.uk

Police were said to be preparing to raid the homes of people allegedly involved in Old Firm internet hate campaigns.

An operation to target people posting racial and religious hate comments about Old Firm stars such as Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers striker El Hadji Diouf is planned ahead of the two teams meeting at Ibrox on Sunday. it was reported.

The Daily Record newspaper said that the addresses were identified with the help of the ISPs.

 

23rd April
2011
  

Update: No Joke...

Have I Got News For You censored by court injunction

Have Got News You Britain The BBC was last night forced to blank out parts of Have I Got News For You to protect the identity of a celebrity who has won a gagging order.

Tory MP Louise Bagshawe came close to identifying a married Premier League footballer who had an affair with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas, but was censored.

Last night, as part of the BBC One show's odd one out round, four images of people who have taken out injunctions were displayed with their faces blacked out. Miss Bagshawe, who is also a novelist, said: You're not allowed to know who they are. They may or may not have done something with ladies who are not their wives. One of them definitely doesn't rhyme with... even though he is a footballer.

When she said the rhyme, the sound was muted and a black bar was slapped across her mouth.

 

26th April
2011
  

Update: Super Injunctionist...

Andrew Marr comes out

andrew marr show logoBBC presenter Andrew Marr has revealed he took out a super-injunction to protect his family's privacy - but says he will not pursue it any further.

Marr told the Daily Mail he was embarrassed about the gagging order he took out in 2008 to suppress reports of an affair with a fellow journalist: I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists, he said. The use of injunctions seemed to be running out of control, he added.

In his interview in the Mail, Marr confirmed he had taken out an injunction to prevent details about the affair, which happened eight years ago while he was BBC political editor, from being published. He said: Am I embarrassed by it? Yes. Am I uneasy about it? Yes. 'Sense of proportion' But he added: I also had my own family to think about, and I believed this story was nobody else's business.

Marr who hosts a Sunday politics show on BBC One went on to say he knew injunctions were controversial, and the situation seems to be running out of control . There is a case for privacy in a limited number of difficult situations, but then you have to move on. They shouldn't be forever and a proper sense of proportion is required.

 

6th May
2011
  

Offsite: Gagging For It...

Celebrities in a rush for gagging orders

Old BaileySee  article from telegraph.co.uk

A Premiership footballer is the latest to obtain a gagging order to prevent details of an affair becoming public. Kimberley West

Miss West, 18, claims she had a three-month relationship with the footballer after meeting in a nightclub.

He joins a growing list of celebrities who have taken out injunctions to prevent details of their private life being made public.

See article from dailymail.co.uk

A serving MP is seeking a super-injunction preventing details of their activities being exposed, it was disclosed today.

The revelation came in the Commons as MPs discussed future Parliamentary business - including whether to debate creeping judge-made privacy laws and the spiralling use of gagging orders.

Each Thursday MPs are allowed to press Leader of the House Sir George Young to allocate Government time for debates. Conservative Matthew Offord (Hendon) used the session to raise the gagging orders.

He said: There has been much public discussion on the increasing use of super-injunctions and the ability of judges to decide policy instead of elected Parliamentarians.

Is the Leader of the House aware of the anomaly this creates if, as has been rumoured, a member of this place seeks a super-injunction to prevent discussion of their activities?'

See article from dailymail.co.uk

A celebrity chef won a privacy order yesterday granting him anonymity over claims he mistreated two employees whom he later sacked at his business empire.

The ruling means that he cannot be named at an employment tribunal later this year brought by the female and male members of his staff.

It is the latest example of a major public figure remaining anonymous thanks to creeping privacy rulings by judges.

The woman -- known only as Miss J -- claims she suffered sex discrimination and also a detriment after she acted as a whistleblower at the company -- which can be referred to only as K Ltd .

No reasons have been given for the gagging order, but such devices can be used in cases of sexual misconduct under industrial tribunal rules.

 

9th May
2011
  

Update: There's No Twitter Smoke Without Fire...

Twitter user stirs things up by naming celebrities claimed to have taken out super injunctions

Twitter logoA Twitter user named InjuctionSuper has stirred things up with some celebrities who he claims to have obtained super-injunctions to prevent publication of details of their private lives.

The press say that some of these claims are not true but of course they cannot say which these are nor can they confirm any false names.

The use of super injunctions seems ever present in the news these days and seems to be causing much disquiet. A report by a committee set up by the Master of the Rolls - the most senior civil law judge at the Court of Appeal - will report on their use later this month.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said it will have to grapple with the issue of publication online.

If it doesn't the super or secret-injunction may no longer be an effective tool in the administration of justice, he said.

Media lawyer Charlotte Harris, of Mishcon de Reya, said the stories subject to super-injunctions were quite often cases of nasty blackmail . She said: You should be allowed to end a relationship with somebody, whether you are married or not, without having that person say 'right, I'm going to go to the paper, I'm going to destroy your life, I'm going to tell everybody every intimate thing about you'.

A lawyer who acts for newspapers suggested the viral effect of postings on social media websites could make a mockery of super-injunctions. Niri Shan, head of media law at Taylor Wessing, added: You can get an allegation that is made but before you know... it goes to potentially millions of people. Although people don't take these allegations as seriously as newspapers they certainly have a detrimental effect.

 

13th May
2011
  

Update: Twitter Protection...

Latest privacy injunction specifically bans publication on social networking sites

Twitter logoThe first injunction specifically banning the publication of information on Facebook and Twitter was issued yesterday.

The far-reaching order was issued in the Court of Protection in the case of a mother who wants to withdraw life support from her brain-damaged daughter. It prevents the identification of the woman, her relatives and those caring for her.

Legal experts said they had never seen an injunction which specifically barred publication of information on social networking websites.

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who is campaigning against the excessive use of gagging orders, said: They are like King Canute, the tide will keep coming in no matter what they do. The problem the courts have is Twitter is not registered in the UK and is therefore outside British jurisdiction. What they are saying is unrealistic. This is about life and death and I don't think it's acceptable, there is a real issue with transparency. The Court of Protection operates in a bubble -- it's out of touch with the real world.

 

18th May
2011
  

Update: Private Vices and Public Gags...

Justice Secretary indicates that he will introduce a privacy law

Kenneth Clarke Biography Malcolm Balen Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has indicated that a new privacy law will be introduced after warning that the public is not entitled to know about the sex lives of footballers [and politicians?] .

Clarke said there were areas of privacy where Britons could expect to be protected, but added he was uneasy about the use of super-injunctions, which prevent the public from knowing if a gagging order has even been obtained.

Last week, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that more than 80 injunctions have been taken out by well-known people, including Premier League footballers, actors and an MP.

Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, will this week present an official report to the Government on injunctions, which is expected to recommend more public scrutiny of their use.

Clarke said: 

Plainly, I believe in the freedom of the press and freedom of speech in this country, even when sometimes it is exercised provocatively ...HOWEVER... I also think there are areas of privacy where an individual is entitled to have it protected.

It is probably right to say that Parliament passing a privacy act might well be the best way of resolving it. But we need to get somewhat nearer to a consensus, and one needs to know exactly how we are going to strike this balance.

 

21st May
2011
  

Update: Secret Parliament...

Up n coming review of superinjunctions

lord neubergerLord Neuberger's soon to be published review is expected to warn spate of restrictive privacy orders pose a grave threat to tradition of open justice Superinjunctions should only be granted in exceptional circumstances because of the threat they pose to open justice, a report by one of Britain's most senior judges is expected to warn.

Pre-notification ought to be given to third parties, such as the media, of court hearings where celebrities or others are applying for restrictive orders protecting their anonymity, the study headed by the master of the rolls, Lord Neuberger, is also expected to recommend.

Another issue the report may address is the question of how far parliamentary privilege protects the media in reporting speeches by MPs or peers that may be in contempt of court orders.

Whether Neuberger's report will add to the argument that the government needs to pass a privacy law is not clear.

The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ruled it out following a meeting with the justice secretary, Ken Clarke.

The long-awaited survey of superinjunctions and privacy orders, which runs to around 100 pages, will provide the government with clearer evidence about the need for a privacy law. Established last year in the wake of the Trafigura affair and the row over the England footballer John Terry's private life, the Neuberger committee of experts was asked to examine the use of injunctions which bind the press and so-called 'superinjunctions' .

 

22nd May
2011
  

Updated: Own Goal...

Infamous footballer vs heroic Twitter

Twitter logoLegal proceedings are being taken by a professional footballer against Twitter for allegedly publishing information covered by a super-injunction.

The player, identified only by the initials CTB, is also known to be taking action against the Sun newspaper and ex-Big Brother star Imogen Thomas.

Papers lodged in the High Court are against Twitter and persons unknown . They request disclosure of Twitter users said to be behind the publication of confidential information. Legal fight The order requires Twitter to disclose the requested information within seven days - or within the appropriate time required by the law in California, where Twitter has its headquarters.

Media lawyer Nick Lockett said the legal action against Twitter may not have much effect. What will have to be established is that Twitter was subject to the jurisdiction of the court, he said. While UK courts claim worldwide jurisdiction this has often proved hard to enforce. In the case of the US, said Lockett, the situation was complicated by the Communications Decency Act which grants immunity from prosecution for providers of interactive computer services under certain circumstances. Lawyers acting for CTB may struggle to prove that Twitter does not deserve this immunity, said Lockett.

Based on article from bbc.co.uk

Hundreds of Twitter users have reacted to a footballer's bid to find out who is putting information about him on the website by posting new messages online.

Twitter has not commented but hundreds of users have repeated his name online.

Update: 30,000 Tweets

22nd May 2011. See article from dailymail.co.uk

A Premier League footballer's attempts to gag discussion of his extramarital affair with a Big Brother contestant appeared doomed to failure after the total of messages about the star posted on Twitter hit 30,000.

And the number of tweets about the affair has rocketed over the course of the last 48 hours following his decision to launch a second legal action aimed at trying to prevent disclosure of the relationship on Twitter.

Within 24 hours of the player launching the new challenge, more than 12,000 tweets about him and the relationship appeared on the site. Miss Thomas was named alongside the footballer in more than 6,000. Last night tweets about the affair were being posted at a rate of 900 every hour.

Update: Putting people in prison just to hide sexual peccadilloes

22nd May 2011. See article from dailymail.co.uk

A journalist on one of Britain's most respected newspapers -- who also appears on a widely-viewed BBC programme -- could face a jail sentence after naming on Twitter a Premier League footballer who had taken out a privacy injunction.

In the first case of its kind, lawyers for the soccer star have persuaded a High Court judge to ask Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC to consider a criminal prosecution against the writer for breaching a privacy injunction. If Grieve decides to issue contempt of court proceedings, the individual faces a prison sentence of up to two years.

The unprecedented legal action shows the extreme lengths to which public figure can go to prevent the exposure of adulterous affairs and misbehaviour.

 

23rd May
2011
  

Update: Named and Shamed...

Ryan Giggs named in a Scottish newspaper, then Wikipedia, then the House of Commons

Twitter logoThe attempt to use super-injunctions to gag the media in the internet age has reached new levels of absurdity.

It was reported that a High Court judge had referred an unidentified journalist to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, to consider a criminal prosecution for breaching a privacy injunction with a tweet about another footballer. The move could potentially mean that criminal proceedings would be brought against 30,000 people who have broken one or other of the contested injunctions by tweeting in recent days the identities of those involved.

However, sources close to the Attorney General suggested he would be highly unlikely to authorise criminal proceedings against anyone who had breached either injunction on Twitter. They said that he would be unlikely to want to become embroiled in an increasingly farcical situation and suggested that if the footballers' lawyers wanted redress against tweeters, they should do it through the civil courts.

Yet on the same day when the increasingly farcical attempts of lawyers to restrict the flow of information about their clients unravelled further, a Scottish newspaper, the Sunday Herald, devoted its front page to a clearly recognisable photo of one of the footballers involved. Below the picture, a caption read: Everyone knows that this is the footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret. But we weren't supposed to tell you that...

The Scottish paper's editor said he printed the picture because he did not think it was bound by the English legal injunction. However, the paper did not name the footballer in its two-page spread on privacy, and Scottish lawyers questioned whether it would be able to defend its decision in court.

However Campbell Deane, of the leading Scottish libel firm Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co, said he believed the paper was covered by the injunction and could now be referred to the Lord Advocate, who could bring charges against the paper's editor and its owners.

But Reuters reports that Scotland's most senior politician Alex Salmond said on Monday that the Herald should not be pursued by the English courts for publishing the player's photo: It looks to me like the English law, English injunctions look increasingly impractical in the modern world, It seems that everyone is out of step except the English courts.

In a later development Wikipedia has now added an item about the injunction identifying the footballer involved

 

25th May
2011
  

Offsite: Secret Extent...

Independent counts 333 gagging orders in the past 5 years

The IndependentThe extent of court privacy injunctions in British public life and the media can be revealed today after an analysis by The Independent found that more than 333 gagging orders protecting the identities of celebrities, children and private individuals have been granted in the past five years.

As the ramifications of the naming in Parliament of footballer Ryan Giggs continued to fuel the debate over injunctions, MPs renewed calls for the Ministry of Justice to begin collating figures for the number of privacy orders being granted in Britain's courts after a senior judge warned that the absence of reliable data was undermining public confidence in the administration of justice.

...Read the full article

 

26th May
2011
  

Update: Snitch Twitter...

Twitter will hand over data connected with accounts defying court injunctions

Twitter logoTwitter said it was prepared to hand over information identifying tens of thousands of people who have used the social-networking website to break privacy injunctions.

A senior executive from Twitter has admitted that the website would turn over information to authorities if it was legally required to do so.

Experts had previously assumed that people who breached gagging orders on Twitter were protected from legal reprisals because the website is outside the jurisdiction of British courts.

Ryan Giggs, the Premiership footballer, last week started legal proceedings against Twitter and persons unknown after more than 70,000 users revealed that he had obtained an injunction to hide an extra-marital affair.

Tony Wang, Twitter's head of European operations, said that the website would notify users in advance so they could fight the application in the court before Twitter handed over the information. He said:

Platforms have a responsibility, not to defend that user but to protect that user's right to defend him or herself. If we're legally required to turn over user information, to the extent that we can, we want to notify the user involved, let them know and let them exercise their rights under their own jurisdiction. That's not to say that they will ultimately prevail, that's not to say that law enforcement doesn't get the information they need, but what it does do is take that process into the court of law and let it play out there.

 

29th May
2011
  

Offsite: Secret Courts...

New gagging order over employment tribunal hearing sex discrimination case

Old BaileyA new secrecy row has erupted after a tribunal judge imposed a gagging order on a sex discrimination case involving a married executive at one of Britain's most high-profile public bodies. The case has been brought by a female colleague with whom he had a close friendship.

The man, who is in his 50s and whom The Mail on Sunday is not allowed to name, was employed until a few weeks ago as a senior director at an organisation deeply involved in law and order. Protected: In an unusual move, both the man and the woman involved in the case persuaded a judge to impose a secrecy order. He has overseen a number of controversial issues that have led to turmoil within the organisation and the departure of key individuals.

Yet in a rare move, both he and his female colleague, who is considerably younger than him, have persuaded an employment tribunal judge to impose a secrecy order on the proceedings.

...Read the full article

 

31st May
2011
  

Update: Revealing More...

Another batch of claimed celebrity injunctions published

Twitter logoAnother twitter user has published details of more purported celebrity gagging orders.

A newly created Twitter account posted details of 13 alleged injunctions early yesterday morning, directing users to a website for further detailed information. After attracting more than 500 followers within the first 10 hours of publication, the tweets were removed.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer, said the courts could instruct the Attorney General or solicitors to begin proceedings, at public expense, to find out who the person behind the breach was. They would then be subject to a contempt of court action: One of the things about this is that it is a cynical snub of the judiciary but a lot of this information has been available for people using the internet for quite some time.

But Sara Mansoori, a media barrister at Matrix chambers, which represents claimants and defendants including some mentioned in the latest alleged Twitter breach, said a judge had recently rebuffed solicitors' calls for the court to start contempt proceedings -- instead telling them they could apply to the Attorney General to intervene: The [breaches] are starting to be a head-on collision with the courts, she said. Courts are implementing laws by Parliament. We have moved away from privacy laws to contempt laws, we are in a very serious situation [but] we have got Parliament, through comments through the Prime Minister saying he is concerned about the courts, and John Hemming [the MP] saying they are unhappy with the way the courts are applying the law.

The author of the latest alleged Twitter breach used the anonymous mask -- employed by groups and individuals seeking to challenge institutions and whistle blow wrongdoings.

 

7th June
2011
  

Update: Protecting the Rich and Adulterous...

Government threatens legal action against twitter users who break privacy injunctions

dominic grievePeople who use Twitter to breach privacy injunctions may face government legal action.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said that individuals could be prosecuted for contempt of court for publishing sensitive material. Enforcement was normally a matter for whoever had taken out a privacy order. But Grieve told the BBC he would take action himself if he thought it necessary to uphold the rule of law.

In an interview with Radio 4's Law in Action programme, the attorney general said that individuals who used Twitter or other internet sites to undermine the rule of law could face the consequences of their actions. He was referring to court powers to fine or even imprison people who deliberately break court rulings.

Grieve explained that enforcement of orders made in civil cases was normally a matter for whoever had taken them out. A claimant could go to court and seek to have people punished if they had broken the terms of an injunction.  But when asked if he should bring contempt proceedings himself for breach of a privacy order, Grieve said he would take action if he thought it necessary.

Law in Action is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 7 June at 1600 BST and Thursday 9 June at 2000 BST, Or via iPlayer or podcast.

 

12th June
2011
  

Offsite: Mr Super Injunctionist...

Mr Justice Eady on balancing acts

Privacy Dead privacy Index Censorship The British press loves to hate high court judge Sir David Eady for his judgments in privacy cases. He talks to Joshua Rozenberg about balancing rights

Where should we draw the line between personal privacy and freedom of expression? In England and Wales, such questions are left to the judges to decide. Parliament has chosen not to create a privacy law; no doubt because politicians of all parties have no wish to antagonise the media any more than is necessary. Even if there were legislation, it could not define all the subtle variants that occur in the real world. So it will always be up to judges to balance Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires respect for a person's private and family life, against Article 10, which protects freedom of expression.

...Read the full article

 

29th February
2012

 Offsite Article: Lawyers order Parliament to stop publishing super-injunction document...

Document on Parliamentary record details aspects of one of Britain's last remaining super-injunctions

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Updated: Junk the injunctions, and free the press...

There are bigger issues than celeb sex lives behind this farcical gag. By Mick Hume


Link Here 15th April 2016  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

Spiked logoEven those of us who care little or nothing about the sex lives of celebrities should care about the latest farcical attempt by the English courts to use an injunction to gag a tabloid newspaper.

The case sets a potentially dangerous new standard in allowing judges to screw over press freedom and dictate what the public should be allowed to know. The judicial campaign to impose a privacy law by the back door is the big issue we should all be concerned with, behind the squalid details of celebrity scandal.

Update: Google forced to censor links to the not very secret celebrity scandal

Google logo15th April 2016. See  article from theguardian.com

Google has removed links to articles about the celebrity couple at the centre of a injunction in response to legal demands. Searches for the names of either person return notices at the bottom of the page saying results have been removed. Links are still available when accessing Google from outside the UK (or maybe EU).

Google's removal notices in this case are of the form normally used for taking down links to copyrighted information and are different to the messages Google posts when it censors links under EU right to be forgotten rules.

The Daily Mail reported that an online privacy firm claiming to be acting on behalf of the couple had complained about more than 150 links.

torrentfreak logo Offsite Article: Google not censoring links to the not very secret celebrity scandal

18th April 2016. See  article from torrentfreak.com  

 

  Secret Censorship...

A few super injunctions are still being ordered in Northern Ireland


Link Here 2nd December 2016  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers
Northern IrelandThrough an Assembly question to the Justice Minister, South Down UUP MLA Harold McKee has established that ultra-secretive super-injunctions are still being ordered in Northern Ireland.

A standard injunction is a gagging order imposed by a judge, which bans anybody in the court's jurisdiction from reporting a story, or naming the parties involved. A super-injunction goes further and seeks to ban any mention of the fact that such an injunction has been imposed in the first place.

Super-injunctions are so extraordinary and unwieldy that even the normally ban-happy London courts effectively banished them five years ago after getting a bad rap in a few celebrity cases.

However, it appears that Northern Ireland's courts are continuing to use the discredited orders. After a lull since 2009, a fresh super-injunction was granted in 2015 and another one just this year. That is all we are allowed to know.

Harold McKee linked the continuation of super-injunctions in Northern Ireland to the Executive's refusal to adopt the liberalising reforms to the defamation laws introduced across the rest of the UK.

 

 Update: Justice must be seen to be done...

Not used to threaten extreme punishments to cover up the sexual peccadilloes of the rich and famous


Link Here 6th February 2017  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers
unbalanced justiceA top celebrity has taken out a so-called super injunction to prevent the press from reporting a story on their personal and professional life .

The extreme gagging order prevents any information which could lead to the identity of the celebrity involved, including their sex, the reason they are famous and information relating to the story.

Officially, the legal measure - which is called an anonymised privacy injunction - has been used by a large number of celebrities including footballers such as Ryan Giggs and John Terry to cover up sexual infidelity.

The latest anonymous celebrity secured a super injunction against the Sunday Times in the High Court.