Law Review: Facebook contempt – John Hemming MP breaks injunction again – Privacy Law

While I am more than happy for those who believe in what they believe to continue to do so without fear of harassment – I am not too keen on the idea that any religion should be a foundation or principle of consideration – in the promulgation or application of our law.

I read an article in the Law Society Gazette by Andrea Minichiello Williams this morning.

Ms Williams states… “I believe Christians are seeing the beginnings of persecution in the UK because, as a nation, we have forgotten our history, our heritage and our Christian foundations. For hundreds of years most of the great advances in public life, in health care, education and social provision, came as a result of Christian conviction that cares for the good of all. Social trends have come and gone, but the Christian foundations of our country are what have maintained true tolerance within our society, the dignity of every human being and great public service.”

While she makes good points about discrimination, these are, surely, already addressed by legislation?   I can see no justification, in a largely secular state, for any religion, to be given specific protection and I certainly do not feel comfortable with suggestions that sharia or jewish (or any other religious) codes be permitted to stand alongside or, worse, above our own common and parliamentary enacted law.

I am not prepared to accept at face value Ms Williams’ bald assertion…“The secular movement is a variant of the man-made philosophies that failed in the last Century – humanism, fascism, communism.”  I am not at all convinced that most atheists or secularists, for want of a better word, have been influenced by any ‘movement’, or wish to join such a ‘movement’.

Laws should be enacted for the benefit of society as a whole.  I would hope that our law makers and judges put aside their specific religious beliefs – which are not followed by the majority in this country – when enacting or applying our laws?

The UK Human Rights blog has an interesting post on Facebook and contempt of court….

Silence please: A Facebook contempt of court – allegedly

Heresy Corner – a blog well worth reading, particularly if you are a lawyer, has an extraordinary piece today…

Charging Alfie Meadows

The news that Alfie Meadows, the student who suffered a near-fatal brain injury during last December’s central London protest, is to be charged (along with several others) with the serious crime of “violent disorder”, has been greeted with predictable outrage on Twitter and elsewhere. It was my reaction, too, late last night….
To strike a topically Orwellian note, this chilling prosecution (it seemed to me) summons up a future of a boot stamping repeatedly on a human face – and then putting the face on trial for boot-obstruction.


Premier Grand Cru blogging from Carl Gardner on  John Hemming MP and breaking of superinjunctions

John Hemming, sub judice and the public interest: “no abuse of parliamentary procedure?”

On a similar note… The Ministry of Truth states….

Hemming is, in my opinion, wholly unfit to hold public office and his actions yesterday stand as a flagrant and unacceptable abuse of parliamentary privilege.

I am with Carl Gardner on this one.  I would prefer Mr Hemming to focus his attention on breaking superinjunctions where there is (a) a legitimate public interest, and (b) where there is no risk of ‘sensitive’ issues of family law being compromised?

Lord Neuberger MR is soon to publish a paper on the use of superinjunctions.  I doubt if the recommendations will include ‘abolition’, but we shall see soon enough.  The  issues of privacy law and libel reform (sometimes conflated  by the press and others) both need parliamentary attention.

Joshua Rozenberg, writing in The Law Society Gazette, has a thoughtful piece and sums up the point with the title of his article: Privacy law, not injunctions, should be on press’s agenda

It is not the injunctions that the press should be attacking, nor the judges who are bound to grant them.

It is the law of privacy, developed by the courts with parliament’s acquiescence.

Lord Irvine, the lord chancellor, alerted parliament when he introduced what became the Human Rights Act, requiring our judges to take account of European court rulings on the human rights convention.

Irvine told the Lords on 24 November 1997 that ‘the judges are pen-poised, regardless of incorporation of the convention, to develop a right to privacy’.

Irvine stressed that the judges were free to develop the common law in this direction.

The issue as ever, perhaps an issue which cannot be reconciled easily, is the balancing of freedom of the press and a right to privacy when conduct is not ‘a matter of public interest’.

9 thoughts on “Law Review: Facebook contempt – John Hemming MP breaks injunction again – Privacy Law

  1. Ms Williams fails to appreciate the grander basis on which Christianity informs the whole of our social and legal system. By focussing on a few intolerant extremists she suggests Christians are being persecuted. When the whole of our government listened to Pope Benedict in Westminster Hall, that was how Chrisitanity informs law making.
    Therfore beloved Charon, no setting aside of religous beliefs rather we should embrace the love of one another that is central to Christianity – especially at this very Love ly moment in history.

    ** confetti***

  2. I think the trouble with the debate on superinjunctions and family law is that it has gotten rather muddled and messy and a lot of that is to do with the fact that those who are blogging, in the main and with all due respect, are not privy to the facts, precisely because there has to be a limit on what can and can’t be exposed all the while taking into consideration the possibility that something has gone terribly wrong inside the system and so justice has to be done, somehow. In this context, that involves speaking out.

    This kind of approach is not for the squeamish but it is this approach which, in the end, makes the difference between righting a very entrenched wrong.

    Reading Carl’s blog post, as thoughtful as it is, is clearly highly speculative and as a result cannot offer anything concrete, yet, on the issues. It is also true to say that the orders preventing factual revelation in family cases are not injunctions in the true legal sense of the word, but the link is obvious – the Children Act may be the go-to legislation to get information suppressed, but a rose by any other name….

    Obviously I have an interest in that I work with John Hemming on various different projects and have done so for nearly three years now. In that time, I have watched him behave in measured fashion, at times when others have wanted him to be even more direct. I believe that his concern about the reasons for the way family courts are gagging families is more than just skin deep.

    There’s a lot spinning around the net, but a lot of it is filled with hostile undertones which to me smells more like fear than reason.

    Speaking specifically about the family justice system, I see gross breaches of procedure every day which affect the children involved and that makes me very uncomfortable. Far more uncomfortable than watching John Hemming walk a tight rope in the pursuit of truth.

  3. Filemot

    I accept that it is difficult for law makers and judges to set aside completely their faith – but I would hope they act in the interests of society as a whole and not in the the interests of a religion or belief system which the minority subscribes to.

    This.. of course.. is probably not a realistic expectation.

    I have no issue with embracing principles of ‘reasonable behaviour’ that is central to all our lives 🙂

    The Wedding will be an amusing distraction from our real lives… and we may be all the better for that.. but on Tuesday… real world issues return to run our lives..and for many.. they could be rather serious?

  4. Hi Mike,

    In my opinion, trust today in the family courts comes down entirely to the professionals in the system behaving responsibly and in a system which is suffering from a lack of resources, wildly fluctuating levels of competence, huge gaps in infrastructure (like accountability, quality of services and seriously sexy law and procedure to keep the system ticking over smoothly, to name but a few) and a general lethargy and lack of compassion, trust deteriorates very fast.

    I do think there are some great people in the system but they’re very hard to find and they are, relatively speaking, few in number.

  5. “…can we not trust our family courts?”

    Can we trust any system of ‘justice’ that is done in secret?

    I believe it’s something we regularly criticise other countries for, isn’t it?

    What hypocrites we are…

  6. juliam – you don’t go far enough for me – i reckon we can’t trust anyone whether we can see em or not!

    my very limited experience of the family courts fwiw (very little i suspect) is that they are not secret, but i do rather worry about them anyway.

    ms williams’ warped sense of values is perfectly expressed by her linking of humanism fascism and communism in the same breath. what on earth has humanism ever done wrong? never burned anyone at the stake, never pushed women into the role of second class citizens, never killed a homosexual … i could go on. she also seems unable to realise that the very positive values which are said to (and of course should indeed underlie) christianity are those that are said to and should underlie judaism, islam and all the world’s religions. that they often don’t is the reality gap into which she falls with only her bigotry for a parachute. happy landings, ms williams – it won’t take long at 32ft/sec.

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