Imogen Thomas’s Gag: When Secrecy Becomes A Tyranny
IN response to Anna Leach’s article on the allegation that a footballer is suing Twitter over his name being linked to an alleged super-injunction banning Imogen Thomas from naming him in an alleged affair, Alan writes:
It appears to many that the use of super-injunctions are the preserve of the super-wealthy to protect their privacy. There is no Privacy Law in Britain and lawyers acting on behalf of the applicants have been going to the High Court (English) to seek super-injunctions using an interpretation of the Human Rights Act 1998.
The beauty of that wheeze is the HRA also covers Scotland and Northern Ireland – which have their own judicial systems – and decisions taken by the entirely separate English High Court are binding on Courts and Judges which have had no part in the original decision.
One section covers the rights of an individual to have a private life.
Some English High Court Justices (around 5 or 6 of them in total) have been persuaded of the validity of the argument and granted injunctions which prevent the media naming the applicant, the nature of the injunction or even the fact an injunction exists. This is because the Judges are using the Act in the way they think it was written. Some Parliamentarians (politicians) who passed the Law say this situation was not the intention.
To many that degree of secrecy becomes a tyranny. – I am in that position and find the use of the Human Rights Act in this way to be unrepresentative and elitist , in fact the very opposite of what a Human Rights Acts (defence and protection of all) was meant to achieve.
It may even seem to be a classic Case Law (judges’ decisions) perversion of the original intention of the Parliamentary Draughtsmen (the lawyers who write the Laws for politicians to approve).
Judges in Scotland and Northern Ireland are known to be unhappy about the situation but have yet to speak out.
Twitter and other social sites give rapid access to a mass audience and some are using this to breach the terms of the HR Act and the individual High Court judge’s decision. Naming and shaming the allegedly guilty party but possibly also committing libel.
It is as well to remember in – the majority of – these cases no-one has been been blamed for anything and the application is to suppress all known facts and allegations. There is no guilt issue.
Where newspapers and broadcasters are involved they are, generally, staffed by news teams which understand the danger of the libel laws and even when these injunctions are overturned restrict coverage to the facts. The same is not true when loose cannons are being fired on social sites.
The ridiculous situation is all can read the names of these alleged holders of gagging order injunctions without too much effort via web search engines
All recent notable overturning of sections of these injunctions seem to have been by other (or second judges) dealing with an appeal against decisions taken by their colleagues. It must make for some interesting after dinner conversations, that is, if these High Court Judges ever talk together.