Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever?


10:42 am - April 20th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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A British court of Protection has issued what is described as one of the most draconian super-injunctions ever.

The order involves a mother – referred to as ‘M’ – who is seeking court permission to let her brain-damaged daughter die.

The super-injunction covers media coverage of the ongoing case. The court order bans journalist communicating with M or any other member of her family: “whether orally in person, or by telephoning, text message, email or other means”.

The Court of Protection specifically bans all journalists from contacting 65 people or coming within 50m of four properties.

Flouting that ban risks being found guilty of contempt of court, which could mean a fine or prison.

But guess what? We don’t know who those people are or what properties the court refers to.

The Telegraph report says:

Legal experts said they had never seen the press restricted in such a way, in powers usually used to protect vulnerable women from ex-partners or keep animal rights protesters away from scientists.

It comes after growing concern at the use of privacy orders being obtained by the rich and famous in order to prevent details of their sex lives being published.

FleetStreetBlues blog is more straight-laced:

It’s a ridiculous, draconian ruling that makes a mockery of free speech. But without knowing who it is we’re not allowed to talk to or where it is we’re not allowed to go, it’s also literally impossible to uphold. Who’s making this stuff up?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Shatterface

Can you tell us who requested the ban?

Well, it also stops them printing stories such as “friends of M say…”.
Number of actual friends spoken to by journo responsible for piece – 0.

3. Flowerpower

Mmmm – I’d bet the newsrooms who’ve already sent their journos to pester Ms M with repeated phone calls, texts, e-mails and who have besieging her house and the properties of other family members probably DO know the identities and addresses of those concerned.

“The order involves a mother – referred to as ‘M’ – who is seeking court permission to let her brain-damaged daughter die.”

Freedom of the press is important, but this is the story of a mother trying to protect her identity whilst her child dies. It’s not corrupt politicians using the law to prevent a newsworthy story getting out.

I don’t know if I’m being particularly stupid this morning, but I can’t see why this isn’t a good use of the super-injunction system.

I’m sure the journalists at the major news organisations – possibly ones who had already been in contact – have been made aware who they are not allowed to contact.

Also what constitutes a journalist? Someone who writes blog about the local area? Someone who once wrote a blog about news? A, say, sports journalist who just happens to live next door who has no professional interest in the case whatsoever?

Agreed with 4. I don’t see how this is a bad thing.

I think the point is that it is absurd to say “You cannot talk to X or 65 people who know X” without – and it’s an obvious point, I’d’ve thought – saying who exactly we’re not allowed to talk to.

The merits of the super-injunction itself are a side issue IMO.

4 & 6

I think the issue is that once this has been upheld in law for one case, it sets a precedent that could be used for other less worthy cases.

Also, as the blog in the article points out, it’s so draconian it’s impossible to enforce.

10. Chaise Guevara

Agree with 8 and 9. The cause of protecting this woman’s privacy seems worthy enough, but Kafkaesque rules are the wrong way to go about it.

I think the point is that it is absurd to say “You cannot talk to X or 65 people who know X” without – and it’s an obvious point, I’d’ve thought – saying who exactly we’re not allowed to talk to.

Do you think that the journalists who might be involved have not been told?

It seems analogous to a DA-notice: the government does not say, “please don’t report on something someone may have held in his hands at some point”, it says “please don’t report on those documents Bob Quick was holding in his hands on 8 April.”

Can you be found guilty of contempt of court when it is not possible to know if you are in contempt? I know ignorance is no defence in the law, but even so, this seems unlikely to stand.

Super injunctions are doubtless worrying. But I totally sympathise with a mother wishing to negotiate an end of life settlement without tabloid vultures, or pro-life crusaders making a horrible situation even more intolerable. If there is a justification for super injunctions it would seem to be for cases like these. I don’t think it compares to poisoning African villagers.

14. Mr S. Pill

@11

Please define “journalist” 😉 particularly in today’s blog-heavy world, it’s a tricky one I reckon.
Also as pointed out this sets a dangerous precedent for future cases – laws can be made with the best of intentions and used by others with less worthy motives (MegaCorp Ltd for example could use a super-injunction to stop people reporting on scandals).

Mr S Pill,

Also as pointed out this sets a dangerous precedent for future cases – laws can be made with the best of intentions and used by others with less worthy motives (MegaCorp Ltd for example could use a super-injunction to stop people reporting on scandals).

I’m not saying it’s a good thing. I don’t know why people are worried about it setting a “precedent”, though, as we’ve had super-injunctions for some time – one such is alluded to @13. The Times and the Guardian have complained about it for years.

Aww, poor wickle journalists. Not able to print potentially libellous character assassinations of a woman while she engages in an emotional and private legal battle. How ever will they cope? Perhaps someone should toss them fresh celebrities to binge on?

Honestly, this is the natural result of a feral and out-of-control press taking it as its right to lie and intrude on the privacy of anyone without concern for common decency and to twist the term “public interest” so as to make it utterly meaningless. If they weren’t such a hideous pack of jackals, if they’d behaved in a manner which was at least somewhat restrained at any point before this, it’s unlikely people would feel the need to turn to the courts.

I shall weep no bitter tears unless someone can show me there is actually a journalistically relevant reason that anyone should talk to this woman or anyone near her about this case. I’m not really feeling that I would benefit from weeks and weeks of “DEATH MOTHER RAN CHIP SHOP BROTHEL” or whatever tenuous lies they could make up to stick in the headlines, so am pretty grateful to the courts for saving both her and me from the inevitable misery that letting these cunts have their way would cause.

Journalists brought it on themselves by being pricks. Fuck them. Run a proper paper first, then come and whinge about being stopped.

Can you be found guilty of contempt of court when it is not possible to know if you are in contempt? I know ignorance is no defence in the law, but even so, this seems unlikely to stand.

In the case of journalists/newspapers, it is vanishingly unlikely that they do not already know precisely what this story relates to. The injunction won’t bar internal/cross-paper communications.

With bloggers/twitterers etc. what would happen is that if they did publish this sort of information they would be contacted (probably by lawyers for the injunctee), informed of the court order and told to remove their posting. If they didn’t, then they would be guilty of breaching a court order – ie: contempt of court.

18. Daddy Mama

McDuff stated it perfectly.

A non-story. Just more wild, scattershot, Lefty digs just for the sake of it.
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! And if you can’t…An injunction on such matters will do it for you.

Tough.

“Freedom of the press is important, but this is the story of a mother trying to protect her identity whilst her child dies. It’s not corrupt politicians using the law to prevent a newsworthy story getting out.”

The difficulty is that there is no way of knowing this is true.

It may well be true that there is no public interest in this particular case; but when a super-injunction is applied there is no way of knowing that there is no public interest. Super-injunctions can also forbid the reporting of the describing of the nature of / reasons for the injunction in even the vaguest terms.

Yeah, I know a large perecentage of the press are malevolent bandits, but for all I know there could be ten Trafiguras out there that are banned from being reported. Even if some super-injunctions are justified, this is a very major problem with the system as a whole. There’s no oversight. All it takes is one excessively authoritarian (or worse, corrupt) judge…

But jungle, even if there *was* a potential public interest, you’re not going to get the press as currently instituted to report on it. You’re more likely to get harmful and voyeuristic intruding into someone’s private life, and any ostensible value to the public buried under a pile of gossip and speculation.

I’m not sure what Daddy Mama is on about with “lefty digs” though. The papers that are typically most guilty of printing voyeuristic, sensationalist bullshit are hardly those identified as Left-Wing.

I agree with others that, its not necessarily a bad thing in this context.

But it does set a dangerour precedent. That’s the real danger

22. Daddy Mama

“”I’m not sure what Daddy Mama is on about with “lefty digs” though. The papers that are typically most guilty of printing voyeuristic, sensationalist bullshit are hardly those identified as Left-Wing.””

I meant LC were takig the ‘lefty digs’ by running this ‘naughty naughty injunction’ story at all.

23. Planeshift

It’s probably a celebrity then.

The British media have only themselves to blame for this. If they investigated people that matter, and stopped poking their noses into what is essentially private matters of celebrities we would not be in this mess.

If they kept to stories of public interest and stopped the stories which are of interest to the moronic tabloid public we would be fine.

Sunny,

But it does set a dangerour precedent. That’s the real danger

What precedent?

It is preceded by a number of super-injunctions, some of which are about more trivial issues.

I think ukliberty is right on the precedent thing – injunctions on stories about extramarital affairs (which do not happen by accident I presume) are different from stories about a dying child, but they have set the precedent.

Sunny, it’s not just a case of it being “not a bad thing”. With our horrendous press there’s a very good chance that this is a good thing, because the bastards can’t be relied upon to not prey upon the weak and innocent. I’m far more inclined to believe that there’s a valid reason for the press to not bother this woman than that there is some kind of public interest in them being allowed to engage in the kind of prurient, moralistic panty-sniffing that they so often get involved in.

Consider:
‘Today a judge issued a ban on a particular type of soft-drink from being sold in the UK. When the Association of Shop Merchants asked which drink was being prohibited the judge replied “I can’t tell you, you’ll find out if you try to sell it”‘.

Before anyone says anything I understand and sympathise with why this has taken place. Even if a simple injunction had been taken out ‘journalists’ would still be printing that Mrs X of Y Drive Ztown was doing this and before you could say “tabloid” they’d be a posse of Right-to-Lifers sitting on her doorstep waving placards.

However it does depend on the wording. Imagine if a shooting occurred next to one of those properties – could anyone cover it; how would they know they couldn’t? How would anyone know that knocking on that property’s door to ask about this would breach a ban for a completely different subject?

What if someone else discovered this story and reported it. If the injunction preventing them is in itself non-disclosable how could they know they’ve breached it?

I thought this was the Daily Mail when it came up in my Google Reader 😉
Anyway happy Easter Sunny and team.

30. Imran Ahmed

This story has been reported elsewhere.

The 53-year old woman in question – “M” – is in a state of minimal consciousness pursuant to encephalitis, not a persistent vegetative state, and the courts are to rule in July as to whether life support can legally be withdrawn. Whereas life support has previously been legally withdrawn for those in persistent vegetative states, “M” is at a slightly higher level of consciousness.

Until the court rules, it seems right and just that the Press not be allowed to crawl all over “M”‘s mother, family, friends and the doctors involved in the case without first having gone through a solicitor.

Should journalists wish to discuss the moral aspects of the case, they are free to do so. They are simply not allowed to harass a woman, her friends and family, that must be going through hell right now.

I suspect that many of those wailing the loudest would be quite unwilling to doorstep a octagenarian to ask her why she’s killing her kid. But I bet the Mail would. The Sun? News of the World? Like the Telegraph, when they report it, I bet they wouldn’t mention “M” was 53. Is anyone looking forward to another tortured column from Melanie Phillips with a picture of a terrified elderly woman in which she perorates on the decline of family values and holds this woman as an example of the “culture of death” in UK medicine?

As has been pointed out repeatedly, the fact that *we* are not told who the injunction applies to says nothing about whether national daily newspaper editors will have been told exactly who it applies to. That some people can’t work out that in the current privacy-free climate that such an injunction would be even more unenforceable if bloggers could go publishing names and addresses all over the place makes me boggle.

It’s *absolutely nothing whatsoever* like a food product ban. It would be similar if supermarkets had a habit of pissing in our food and telling us they were just responding to market demand. It’s directly addressing a group of people who not only cannot guarantee that they will act in a moral and decent way but, based on their track record, we can pretty much guarantee will act in an immoral and indecent way, and simply telling them that they cannot do so.

FlipC,

Consider:
‘Today a judge issued a ban on a particular type of soft-drink from being sold in the UK. When the Association of Shop Merchants asked which drink was being prohibited the judge replied “I can’t tell you, you’ll find out if you try to sell it”‘.

I’m not sure they would obtain an injunction on privacy grounds…

Imagine if a shooting occurred next to one of those properties – could anyone cover it; how would they know they couldn’t? How would anyone know that knocking on that property’s door to ask about this would breach a ban for a completely different subject?

What if someone else discovered this story and reported it. If the injunction preventing them is in itself non-disclosable how could they know they’ve breached it?

Tim J covered this @17.

33. Lisa Ansell

An injunction being necessary to stop press swarming over a woman making this decision is a damning condemnation of our press, and our society. Is the precedent something that should cause us to sit up and discuss how and why we have reached this point? Yes.

Do I think this is the most draconian injunction ever? No, Ithought this was Sunny being ironic again.

@32 – Except the information is then out in the ‘wild’. Some other blogger reads the story and links to it while repeating it; so that’s another letter from the solicitors informing person C that they can’t repeat what Person B has said because Person A has an injunction that neither B nor C could know about.

@31 – Okay perhaps not a ban, but imagine a soft-drinks company decides to do a deal with one supermarket chain so that only they get sold their new drink. It proves popular but the other chains can’t buy it direct. So they go to that supermarket, but it up, then sell it at a slightly higher price to recoup their costs. The soft drinks company doesn’t like that so they take out a ‘injunction’ to stop anyone from selling it. Predicting a backlash they stop anyone from informing the public what they’re doing. Along comes a small start-up notices this gap and starts doing what the others were, buying non-direct and selling. He now gets a cease and desist closing down his company. How much money will he lose, he’d never have started this if he’d known he couldn’t continue; but he couldn’t know that.

The soft drink analogy remains one of the stupidest things anyone has said in this thread. Did you pick the most asinine thing you could think of to make your slippery slope argument *especially* fallacious?

I truly get all the stuff about the value of press freedom but I’d like to know why the esteemed editors of our dailies believe that I need to know that prominent personage XXX is having an affair or has had a romp or has visited a professional tart. The paper I regard as my daily – the FT – doesn’t carry this news. Am I being deprived of information I should know?

@36 – So you say it’s “*absolutely nothing whatsoever*” and “fallacious” without explaining why beyond claiming that it’s only “directly addressing a group of people who not only cannot guarantee that they will act in a moral and decent way”.

I’m pointing out that that’s not necessarily the case. This is not that someone can’t be bothered to find out if their actions are prohibited, but that they can’t know that their actions are prohibited until they’ve committed them.

You don’t like soft drinks fine imagine I’d discovered that Famous Person A was having an affair with Famous Person B and for some bizarre reason decided to start a company printing T-shirts with this *fact* on it; would I be breaching an injunction? If so could I have found out about this injunction before I started printing? If not my new business has just been shut-down and my money wasted.

The soft drinks example was idiotic on so many levels it hurts. What you’d be describing would be called an exclusive distribution deal, and they are made all the time. They’re good marketing for premium products, but not for high volume products (like soft drinks tend to be) where you achieve profit via maximum penetration. The idea that some kind of secret nefarious injunctions would need to be brought, that a judge would even hear the case, or that the public would be up in arms over “Snapple only available in Waitrose Shocker!” is absolutely fucking ludicrous.

Also, your bollocks business ideas are not the court’s responsibility. Assuming the data was already in the public domain there’d be little the court could do in practical terms to prevent t-shirt distribution, which seems to be a point you’re missing. But, really, why the ever loving Jesus Fuck should I give a shit if your amazing business idea to print t-shirts with salacious gossip on them goes under?

“Parasitic scum intruding into other people’s private life for no good reason doesn’t get big payday after all” is my idea of a Good News Headline. I think you’ll have to do better than that to show some kind of harm I have even the slightest inclination to care about.

Dear McDuff,

Please locate a dictionary and check the definition of “analogy” and compare it to “example”.

Sweet Christ on a crutch. That’s your response?

Please consult any relevant textbooks on the correct technique for removing your head from your ass. I think we’ve pretty much established you’re waving your hands in the air and shouting “panic!” when you’ve got no understanding of the situation whatsoever.

I’m not going to get into a slanging match; just point out why my analogies are wrong rather than treating them as examples as if I think that’s really going to happen.

Just look at the injunction released by the Guardian. It’s being addressed to “The Person or Persons unknown” they can’t even send him/her/them a copy of this telling them they’re bound not to publish or distribute this information and neither can the Guardian so how are they going to know about it?

That’s my point. These things aren’t just being aimed at the people who already know the information and want to publish it; they’re being scatter-shot at people who could discover this information and might want to publish it yet haven’t been told they can’t until they do; which covers anybody and everybody.

I already pointed out exactly why the thing with the drinks was not analogous.

Similarly, there is an easy way to comply with the terms of the injunction. If you happen to know any elderly women going through emotionally fraught difficult Right-to-Life court cases right now, don’t publish personal details about them or send reporters round to harass them.

They might not be the exact person mentioned in the injunction, but think of it as a bit of a conscience boost: decent and respectable human beings wouldn’t do that anyway, so this is just a reminder that if you thought it would be a good idea you’re probably not a good person and you should work on that. Take the time you would have spent bothering people to volunteer at the soup kitchen or something like that.

If you happen to know any elderly women going through emotionally fraught difficult Right-to-Life court cases right now, don’t publish personal details about them or send reporters round to harass them.

Presumably that also goes for footballers sleeping around who as reports suggest have taken out injunctions against people who had no intention of publishing anything simply as an insurance policy.

Besides how can it be a conscience boost if you can’t know about it.

Sorry FlipC but I confess I don’t understand your point. Could you spell it out for me? (genuine question)

“Presumably that also goes for footballers sleeping around “

Since “in the public interest” does not actually mean “stuff a prurient public might be interested in gossiping about” and footballers have as much right to a private life as anyone else, YES OF FUCKING COURSE IT DOES.

Jesus, is the worst thing you can think of happening that we might not find out who an Aston Villa midfielder is fucking? I think civilisation and democracy will cope, dude.

So consider a hypothetical instance where some juvenile pop star was acting as the spokesperson for an anti-bullying charity and they took out a superinjunction against someone they’d been bullying.

Would you consider that to be in “the public interest”?

@46 ukliberty. Pretend I’ve been harassing you. You’re fed-up and take out an injunction preventing me from calling you or visiting you. That’s aimed at me. Now it could also cover people acting for me; so I can’t get someone else to bother you either.

However if someone else started to harass you independently your injunction won’t cover that, obviously.

Now switch this to information. An anonymous source has given me information about you; you take out an injunction against me to prevent me from publishing it. Fine except you’ve also taken out one against the anonymous source. Who’s is that? You can’t deliver this order to them; and under the terms of the order no-one can tell them about it. However if this source notices I’ve done nothing with this information and passes it on to someone else how would they know they’ve breached the order? Is this second person also covered by this order due to it coming from the same source?

Now what if someone else comes across the same information. How does anyone know if they are or aren’t the original source as defined in the order? Are they prevented from publishing it or passing it one? How would anyone know as they’re not allowed to discuss the order itself?

“Would you consider that to be in “the public interest”?”

I probably would. It’s a remote possibility, but I’ll concede it might happen with a particular confluence of bad judicial practice. On the other hand, someone just has to tell their MP and they can use Parliamentary privilege, as happened in the Trifigura case, to open the question up.

However, your constant “oh noes but what if this thing happened wouldn’t that be bad!” is missing the point. This injunction wouldn’t have been taken out if British journalists weren’t lying, unprincipled hacks, or if tabloid editors had even the merest sliver of decency in their black and corroded souls. The solution to the problem is *not* to let those jackals and monsters report on any aspect of anyone’s private life that they deem fit.

The outside chance that they may stumble upon something of real import while they are going about their daily business of repackaging salacious gossip and rumour isn’t worth the risk we take in saying that anyone’s private life is fair game.

Also, as far as what can or cannot be done with this order, are you speaking from any kind of detailed knowledge about the actual mechanism of the injunction in question (which seems, frankly, unlikely) or are you just pulling wild hypotheticals out of your shiny white ass because you don’t *actually* know what the fuck you are talking about?

Because, given your defense of shite journalists’ rights to publish any old arsedribble, I know what my guess is going to be.

On the other hand, someone just has to tell their MP

Unless they’ve taken out a hyperinjunction which prohibits that.

The solution to the problem is *not* to let those jackals and monsters report on any aspect of anyone’s private life that they deem fit.

Except these “jackals” are us, they’re civilians with no extra rights or restrictions. If you want to stop ‘them’ then you’re also stopping ‘us’.

The principle here is the combination of article 8 and 10 of the ECHR. We have a right to a private life, but we also have a right to freedom of expression; but this is tempered by “for the protection of the reputation or rights of others”. So anything, even if it’s true, that could damage someone’s reputation isn’t covered and thus can be prevented from disclosure via injunction.

“Public interest” is not a term used within the convention, however feel free to check the Public Interest Disclosure Act for a definition of what is deemed such under this particular Act.

Ah, I see, I forgot that you can totes win arguments on the internet if you just keep making bullshit up. Sorry about that. You’re right, in your imaginary hypothetical fairyland this is AWFUL. I hope the unicorns make up for it.

Looks like someone took their angry pills this morning.

Ah you’ve caught me. Yeah that’s right I made up hyperinjunctions, the ECHR, and the Public Interests Disclosure Act; almost had you fooled

Also you’re right journalists aren’t really just like us. Once they’re employed within these private companies the law gives them special rights and privileges not afforded to us common folk. Lucky for us they’re so very picky about who they hire eh?

In the same manner I retract all I’ve said about these secret injunctions. I see no harm in judges issuing orders against un-named individuals without telling them. Due process and the ability to defend oneself takes up far too much of the court’s time these days.

The existence of horns and the existence of horses does not imply the existence of unicorns.

FlipC,

However if this source notices I’ve done nothing with this information and passes it on to someone else how would they know they’ve breached the order?

They won’t until they are told.

Is this second person also covered by this order due to it coming from the same source?

It depends what the order says, surely, but yes in the contexts we are talking about they probably mean anyone with the information.

Now what if someone else comes across the same information. How does anyone know if they are or aren’t the original source as defined in the order? Are they prevented from publishing it or passing it one? How would anyone know as they’re not allowed to discuss the order itself?

Well that’s the thing, isn’t it, that they won’t know about the order until they are told. I guess I did understand what you meant, but again Tim J covered this @17.

FlipC, so then I guess you ask “what happens if someone breaches the order?”

Ultimately, if the court was persuaded that the person knowingly breached the order, he would be found in contempt of court and could be locked up or have his assets seized.

But I’m sure there would be a letter from a lawyer before that point if the lawyer was aware the person had breached, or was about to breach, the injunction.

I’m struggling to think how this itself can be complained about. Take your example:

“…imagine I’d discovered that Famous Person A was having an affair with Famous Person B and for some bizarre reason decided to start a company printing T-shirts with this *fact* on it; would I be breaching an injunction? If so could I have found out about this injunction before I started printing? If not my new business has just been shut-down and my money wasted.”

Let’s say you were completely unaware of any media attention on either person in this context and you are unaware that there is an injunction against B. You may have discovered the affair independently – you may have seen them together on holiday. You did not contact either A or B to ask them to confirm the information or permission to print the information – therefore they are unaware of your intentions.

Should your freedom of expression (print gossip on t-shirts about the personal lives of other people) outweigh someone’s right to privacy? Should you be entitled to, say, compensation for not having been informed prior to your investment that you would be in breach of an injunction if you went ahead?

I would answer, “no”. This is about weighing competing interests, isn’t it? IIUC, weighing freedom of expression (with the public interest) against the right to privacy.

ARTICLE 8

Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

ARTICLE 10

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

<i.the Court must ask itself "whether there is sufficient general, public interest in publishing a report of the proceedings which identifies [AP] to justify any resulting curtailment of his right and his family's right to respect for their private and family life. " http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2010/26.html via http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2010/2457.html

@58 I’m in agreement with you but we’re basing this on a shifting issue of “public interest”.

If we use the definitions in the PID Act then no there’s no public interest in disclosing an affair, but then again there’s also none in disclosing a bullying anti-bullying charity spokesperson, or an MP using expense claims on items the public may consider frivolous. All these things would tarnish the reputation and therefore fall under the aegis of Article 10.

I whole-heartedly agree with the right to a private life; and (shockingly) I agree with McDuff that so much of this can be lain at the feet of scurrilous journalists. But the public buy such trivia so they’re simply given us what we want. By that definition all of the above is in the public interest if it weren’t it wouldn’t sell and by that measure the journalists would not pursue it.

However that only comes into play when an injunction is challenged; prior to that the issue is whether the judge determines the information to be reputation damaging or not.

So receive an letter informing you that an entry you wrote contravenes a court order, but they can’t tell you what part of the entry unless you apply to the court how many are going to go that far and continue it onwards? How many will just delete the offending entry?

As a result we get a block on information that may well be deemed in the public interest (however that’s defined) but only if someone stumps up the time, energy and money to challenge it.

Im not a fan of super injunctions never have been but this is the first one i’ve heard of that actualy sounds justifyed and resonable.

Infact every super injunction i’ve heard of up to this point has been more absurd than this one.

Why not bring up the many cases of celebs trying to hide infidelity with prostiutes by geting an injunction. Which then prevents there own wifes from telling anyone her husband cheated on them without risking jail?

Or was the title sarcasm and i missed it?

FlipC,

f we use the definitions in the PID Act [do you mean PID Act 1998? I can’t see a definition of PI] then no there’s no public interest in disclosing an affair, but then again there’s also none in disclosing a bullying anti-bullying charity spokesperson, or an MP using expense claims on items the public may consider frivolous. All these things would tarnish the reputation and therefore fall under the aegis of Article 10.

It would fall under Article 10, but Article 10 isn’t an absolute right, so freedom of expression and the public interest can be weighed against it.

By that definition all of the above is in the public interest if it weren’t it wouldn’t sell and by that measure the journalists would not pursue it.

No, on the contrary, that is not “in the public interest”, that is merely “what the public may be interested in, or prurience, in the case of kiss-and-tells.

[Naomi] Campbell v MGN and Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd may be of interest. Here the court is weighing up freedom of expression and public interest against the right to privacy and reputational damage.

So receive an letter informing you that an entry you wrote contravenes a court order, but they can’t tell you what part of the entry unless you apply to the court how many are going to go that far and continue it onwards? How many will just delete the offending entry?

As a result we get a block on information that may well be deemed in the public interest (however that’s defined) but only if someone stumps up the time, energy and money to challenge it.

I’m inclined to agree with the thrust of your argument. But I cannot see how privacy would be protected in the face of public, independent scrutiny (say). Ultimately one must challenge the issue in the courts as Ian Hislop / Private Eye recently did against Andrew Marr. Or publish in another jurisdiction.

Of the super-injunction cases outlined in this week’s Private Eye, IIRC only four* (IIRC) struck me as being in the public interest to know more about, the rest are merely gossip (A had sexual intercourse with B and later obtained a super-injunction against B). Another seemed somewhat hypocritical (celeb from writing about personal life takes injunction against ex-wife to stop her talking about their personal life) but I’m fence-sitting there.

(* as well as the accusations of blackmail without official complaint of blackmail, perhaps.)

Motley v News International is more pertinent to distinguishing between public interest and prurience specifically.

“Motley v News International is more pertinent to distinguishing between public interest and prurience specifically.” – I blame my phone… er…

It is of course Mosley v News Group Newspapers.

Private Eye lists some super-injunction topics on its site.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  2. Martin

    RT @libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  3. Andrew Fenlon

    RT @libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  4. Lauren G

    Eventually will be boiled down to 'Don't. Just Don't.' RT @libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  5. Sean Bamforth

    I'm no fan of super-injunctions, but this seems to be a righteous use of them. Why the @libcon outrage? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  6. Duncan Hothersall

    Latest superinjunction conceals from journalists who they are not allowed to talk to. Literally unenforceable. http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  7. Jane Phillips

    “@libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://t.co/l052lVw”

  8. andy m

    RT @JaneDaisyPain: “@libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://t.co/l052lVw”

  9. Ian 'Cat' Vincent

    Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://goo.gl/CeavV

  10. Patrick Hadfield

    RT @libcon Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm >would be hilarious if not so worrying! Completely Kafkaesque

  11. Mark Townsend

    Journalists: stay at home or you might end up in contempt of court: http://t.co/YUMHold via @libcon #injunction #fail

  12. Alan Marshall

    RT @libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  13. Gail Thomas

    RT @libcon Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://bit.ly/eOc3Xm

  14. Matt

    “@aboutpower: RT @libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://t.co/u4Sz5r8” – Hmm, seems an 'ok' superinjunction, kind of.

  15. Laurence Hardy

    “@libcon: Is this the most absurd super-injunction ever? http://t.co/TV1gwi0”<- I wonder if the brain damaged daughter is Nick Clegg. LOL

  16. Tweeter Skeeter

    RT @lisaansell: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/20/is-this-the-most-absurd-super-injunction-ever/

  17. Jon in Grenoble

    A good #superinjunction? http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/20/is-this-the-most-absurd-super-injunction-ever/ Seems yes (via @lisaansell)





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