Sunday 26 March 2017

Premiership footballer sues Twitter after 'affair' leaked

'Super-injunction suit' is legal first

Brian Desmond in London

A Premiership footballer is suing Twitter after details of a super-injunction he obtained were published on the micro-blogging site.

The footballer, who is referred to as CTB in the court documents, is alleged to have had an affair with Imogen Thomas, a former Big Brother contestant.

The married player issued legal proceedings against Twitter, a US-based company, and "persons unknown" on Wednesday in what is expected to become a landmark case.

He was one of a number of celebrities who were identified by an anonymous user on Twitter earlier this month as having obtained super-injunctions to hide alleged affairs. The list of celebrities has since been forwarded to an estimated two million people.

Twitter, which has millions of users worldwide, is based in the US and therefore outside the jurisdiction of UK courts.

Last week Thomas threatened to reveal the name of her former lover on live television after a judge accused her of blackmail. She said: "For me, blackmail is such a serious allegation. I cannot believe someone is accusing me of blackmail and it's on the front cover of every newspaper."

The footballer's decision to sue Twitter yesterday sparked a backlash on the social networking website. One said: "I think Twitter should get a super-injunction against him."

Guidance

The lawsuit came after a top judge published guidance on gagging orders amid tension over privacy and media freedom.

Spokesmen for Twitter and the British justice ministry had no comment on the report.

David Neuberger, the second most senior judge in England and Wales, said earlier that media outlets should be told in advance about applications for gagging orders against them.

Media groups and politicians have expressed concern about a perceived rise in gagging orders, which they fear could be used to quash information of genuine public interest rather than as a legitimate tool to protect someone's privacy.

"Where privacy and confidentiality are involved, a degree of secrecy is often necessary to do justice," Mr Neuberger told a briefing. "But where secrecy is ordered it should only be to the extent strictly necessary to achieve the interests of justice."

The use of injunctions, especially super-injunctions, has come into sharp focus after politicians used the right to speak freely in parliament to expose an order bought by former bank chief Fred Goodwin, and after messaging site Twitter published names of celebrities it said had brought injunctions.

Super-injunctions have prompted most criticism because they prevent anyone from reporting even the existence of the order.

Former RBS chief Goodwin attracted criticism for bringing such an injunction, whose existence was revealed by a politician using the right of parliamentary privilege.

Irish Independent

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