On Thursday afternoon, in a back room of Parliament, history was made. A few MPs found themselves a backbone; they found a way in which they could exercise their Freedom of Speech and perform their ancient duty, drawn from the Bill of Rights 1688, of redressing the grievances of the citizens who rely on them.
As Anna Raccoon said…. Google the Parliamentary report – no mention…. although, hopefully, Google will pick it up after Anna Raccoon’s blog post.
Mr John Hemming, MP for Yardley in Birmingham, rose to his feet and used parliamentary privilege to list some of the secret prisoners, the people who have lost their liberty in the UK behind closed doors; the court orders which detail the secret injunctions – not for the benefit of footballers or bankers, (although it was the issue of Fred Goodwin’s secret injunction that allowed the debate to be heard), but the injunctions, not mere ‘super-injunctions’ that the media could not mention, but ‘hyper-injunctions’ which even prevented the aggrieved citizen from appealing to their MP for help.
Because we are allowed to speak of that which has been in Hansard, we can today speak of the misery of those whose lives have been turned upside down, in secret, with the added bonus of a special injunction from the judge which prevented them even turning to their MP.
The issue of superinjunctions (and hyperinjunctions) is important to the system of open justice we should enjoy in our country.
Ironically…The Master of The Rolls, Lord Neuberger, made a speech on this issue last week and is, fortunately, about to report on the whole issue of superinjunctions. Hopefully, the proceedings of parliament on The Bill of Rights and Mr John Hemming MP’s statements, recorded in Hansard, will be germane to his enquiry and report. The issue is, of course, more complex than the debate reveals – and raises the issue of whether MPs should be above the laws while in Parliament. They may, of course, change the laws; but having made a law, is it right to evade it through use of privilege? Surely, consideration should be given to changing that law? This is noted in the report on the debate. There may well be perfectly good reasons for protecting privacy and maintaining secrecy. Lord Neuberger’s speech is well worth reading.
See the full text of Lord Neuberger’s speech: “Open Justice Unbound?”
…. as has the always precise Obiter J