Sunday 25 September 2016

Celebrity 'threesome' injunction: MP plans to name mystery couple in House of Commons

Published 11/04/2016 | 09:12

Scales of justice: An MP plans to name the mystery 'celebrity threesome' couple
Scales of justice: An MP plans to name the mystery 'celebrity threesome' couple

An MP is preparing to name the “celebrity threesome” couple in the House of Commons , the Telegraph can disclose, as a Scottish newspaper published the identities of the mystery couple behind the injunction.

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The order imposed by judges in England and Wales descended further into farce as the Scottish newspaper published full details of the legal wrangle while media south of the border remain gagged.

One MP privately admitted he was planning to name the couple during proceedings in the Commons chamber, which offers parliamentary privilege meaning MPs cannot suffer libel claims.

The politician added he was considering the move because of concerns free speech was being inhibited by “judge-made law”.

It would come five years after John Hemming, then a Liberal Democrat MP, used the same method to identify Ryan Giggs in the Commons when the footballer won a previous injunction to prevent reporting of an alleged affair.

After the Scottish paper revealed the latest details Mr Hemming said: "It's absurd trying to hold back the flow of information in the digital age by using a court order that can only go as far as Hadrian's Wall.

"It undermines public debate in England and Wales.

"Although the matter at the centre of this injunction is a trivial one, the issues it creates are vital ones which go to the heart of free speech.

"At a time when so much is focused on the impact of the Panama papers, there is a need for transparency in all matters of public interest."

A court order bans newspapers in England and Wales from publishing the names of the “well known” married celebrity who had an extra-marital ménage à trois.

The pair’s identities were first revealed in an American newspaper before being repeated in international titles across the globe as well as being repeated thousands of times online and on social media.

Even the name of the Scottish newspaper cannot be identified in English-based publications because it risks breaching the terms of the injunction.

The celebrity, identified only as ‘PJS’, claimed his right to privacy outweighed an English tabloid newspaper’s right to publish a story about his extra-marital sexual exploits.

Philip Davies MP, a member of the Commons' justice select committee, said: "This is an absolute farce.

"I have never encountered anything quite so ridiculous as this in my life.

"Judges who keep making these rulings are completely out of touch with what is right. They need to get real with the modern world.

"I don't think celebrities who use the media to secure positive media coverage when it suits them should be able to use the law of the land to prevent coverage they do not like."

He added: "Someone in the northern parts of England who is banned from knowing this information could walk to Scotland and read it in the newspapers there - it's an absolute mockery."

A High Court judge initially refused PJS’s application for an injunction and said the newspaper was entitled to “correct” the “public image” presented by the celebrity when he had engaged in that sort of “casual sexual relationship”.

PJS then went to the Court of Appeal.

There, Lord Justice Jackson and Lady Justice King said in their ruling that PJS met someone called AB in 2007 or 2008 and had “occasional sexual encounters”.

In a text message to AB on December 15, 2011, PJS asked whether AB’s partner, known only as CD, was “up for a three-way”.

"Accordingly, the three met for a three-way sexual encounter which they duly carried out," Lord Justice Jackson said

The sexual relationship ended and they remained friends but AB later went to The Sun on Sunday with his story, prompting legal action by the celebrity.

The appeal judges observed PJS and YMA were a “committed couple” and PJS’s “occasional sexual encounters with others do not detract from that commitment”.

The proposed story about his sex life would be “devastating” for PJS and his right to private and family life outweighed the newspaper’s rights to publish, Lord Justice Jackson said.

Last week it was disclosed the British Government is poised to weaken celebrities’ ability to obtain court injunctions amid the “threesome” outcry.

Ministers are “actively considering” a change in the law which will stop wealthy individuals – including famous public figures – using Labour’s Human Rights Act to stop newspapers publishing material that is in the public interest.

Telegraph.co.uk

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