Law Review: The injunction saga moves towards the end game… but is it check-mate to The Sun?

“Should the court buckle every time one of its orders meets widespread disobedience or defiance? In a democratic society, if a law is deemed to be unenforceable or unpopular, it is for the legislature to make such changes as it decides are appropriate.”

Mr Justice Eady

Well…..after 75,000 unpaid ‘reportertweeters’ for The Sun et al.. managed to effectively break an injunction on Twitter and, thereby, commit technical contempts of court, John Hemming MP took what he clearly believes to be a principled stand, by naming the footballer.

This battle between the Press, Parliament and the judiciary will now move, inevitably, to a close focus with Parliament setting up a new committee.  Eady J was right.  If a law is unpopular or unenforceable, it is up to Parliament to act – for without the rule of law, we may as well have mob rule on twitter.  I return to an old theme….. 50 million flies enjoy eating shit and believe it to be right to do so.  As it happens, I am not that keen on shit…. so, hopefully, Parliament will now act to clarify (a) the balance between privacy and freedom of speech through ‘guidelines’ or (b) draft a clear law of privacy (c) examine whether injunctions of any sort are an appropriate remedy and (d) re-establish credibility and acceptability in this field (and the separate field of libel) for the law.

A few articles for you to read… if you are not ‘superinjuncted / injuncted out':

LoveandGarbage: What should CTB have done to protect his position in Scotland?

Lallands Peat Worrier: “If such be the law of England…” #superinjunction

UK Human Rights blog: MP has “revealed” footballer’s name, but is it safe to repeat it?

David Allen Green: The weekend Twitter mocked the English Courts

Carl Gardner at Head of Legal: Hemming does his worst

The Panopticon Blog from 11 KBW: SOME REFLECTIONS ON SUPER-INJUNCTIONS AND PARALLEL UNIVERSES

I gather that Mr Justice Eady did not reconvene the court.  I asked on twitter.. the font of all wisdom… and was told that Mr Justice Eady was on a train.  I can’t say I blame him!

Meanwhile…NOT KEENLY reported in The Sun (or any other Murdoch meedja outlets as yet?)….. this great news…

Phonehacking: Prescott stuns Westminster by winning judicial review

Politics.co.uk: John Prescott stunned the political world today by winning a judicial review into the police investigation into phone hacking.

The decision means that the Met’s handling of the investigation will now come firmly under the spotlight.

Lord Prescott, Labour MP Chris Bryant, former deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick and journalist Brendan Montague argued that the Met had failed to properly brief them on the evidence in their possession concerning what had happened to their phones.

A high court judge said they had “an arguable case for seeking the relief claimed by way of judicial review”.

Perhaps this issue will be more difficult for The News of The World and sister meedja outlets to ignore and sweep under the table.  Superinjunction anyone?

***

The death of blogging? Not for #lawblogs

Siobhain Butterworth in The Guardian:  A recent panel event shows legal blogging is growing to fill the gap left by newspapers…

Good article and great to see coverage for law bloggers in a leading newspaper.  I thought my mention in the blogroll was ‘very accurate reporting’ as to rioja quaffing / chain smoking…. at any event.

AND… I JUST HAVE TO… let you see this excellent blog post from John Bolch….. *Be Careful*… It contains Hemmings

STOP PRESS: NEW PART 37 FPR 2010.

I shall end the day with this tweet…… it has been.. truly astonishing… and lawyers (and, hopefully, many others) know why?

15 thoughts on “Law Review: The injunction saga moves towards the end game… but is it check-mate to The Sun?

  1. In cases such as this, then I feel no adult who freely enters into a relationship with another in a social context should have any judicially enforceable right to gag another.

    However, this is maybe a difference of values. I prefer the right to censure to that to censor. I don’t think that distaste is sufficient justification for judicial intervention in what people want to say about their own experiences.

    Note that I’m only interested here in the rights of participants to be able to speak freely. I would not extend this to the right of third parties to intrude into such areas, at least without a clear public interest. I’d also place “intimate” images into the strictly private arena – release of those without approval of the subjects would be a clear breach.

  2. Interesting suggestion by Geoffrey Robertson QC in The Times. Parliament to legislate a new tort to enable victims to sue in open court for damages when intimate personal details have been published without justification.

    The “justification” could be based on the Press Complaints Commission code – i.e.

    to reveal crime or serious impropriety
    to expose hypocrisy
    to reveal secrets that threaten threaten health/public safety
    to reveal government or public service incompetence or misconduct

    Liked Robertson’s final sentence re the robust response of the Duke of Wellington to a threat to expose his mistress – “Publish and be damned.”

  3. What of the original tweeters who breached the injunction: I assume that they are still liable and that CBT can/should/will pursue them?

    Damages from 75,000 people would be quite useful …

  4. Charon QC
    Ever heard of sticks and stones? I don’t give a monkey’s what is said about me or anyone else .If it’s grossly untrue I might bother to sue for slander or libel if published,but I doubt it.I certainly would not call the police !
    It’s not what people say that matters ,it’s what they do ,and that’s frequently the opposite of what they say …;
    If you don’t like what’s on the tv or in the papers switch off or don’t read it but stop bellyaching !Above all don’t take it on yourself to stuff a gag in a stranger’s mouth.
    Provided you do not incite someone to violence or criminal acts and (reluctantly)if you do not break the official secrets act why should anyone gag anyone else???

  5. Ian Josephs – I have absolutely no idea what your last post really means……

    I was simply asking if you would welcome tabloids stamping all over your private life….. I assume that you are not a *Saint*… are any of us?

    I don’t do polemic / rants.

    I don’t believe I have ever tried to stuff a gag into anyone’s mouth….. not really my idea of a good evening out…

    :-)

    PS.. Curiously… I did sign the Official Secrets Act at one early point in my life….. drunk so much Rioja… could not even break it … even if I was so minded… which I am not !

  6. Charon QC you understood very well what I mean’t but chose to reply with bewildered innocence !
    Be that as it may,of couse if I had secrets which were prurient enough to interest anybody I would not welcome a newspaper splashing them all over the front pages,but I would not try and get a judge to gag the press,which is what an injunction does ! Footballers have less sympathy from me however than mothers who lose their newborn babies to the “SS” !
    There is only ONE country in the whole world where government agents regularly take away mothers’ new born babies and toddlers for” risk of emotional abuse”,and threaten them with jail if they protest publicly .
    That country is THE UK !!!!! What shame,what disgrace,the cradle of democracy the only country in the world to kidnap children and legally gag their mothers ! Who should be punished ? Well,I say the social services and the judges who misinterpret the much derided Human Rights Act and use it as an instrument of repression by the State instead of the protection of family life that it was clearly intended to be !

  7. Does it really matter if people tweet or blog gossip or ‘tittle-tattle’ which is covered by an injunction against a newspaper? Newspapers make money from ‘kiss and tell’ stories and (supposedly) have a credibility and authority that internet gossip does not (to say the least). Turning a blind eye to Tweeter may be the wisest course of action. After all, one particular tweet may have started with post-coital locker-room gossip rather than with the kisser-and-teller. Like the Official Secrets Act (which I signed up to) the focus of the law needs to by upon closing the stable door before the horse bolts….afterwards, it is too late and the toothpaste simply won’t go back in the tube.

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