Video: 30,000 in super-injunction farce
Footballer who took out gag order to hide affair identified in newspaper
Published 23/05/2011 | 05:00
THE attempt to use super-injunctions to gag the media in the internet age reached new levels of absurdity yesterday.
A Scottish newspaper became the first mainstream British publication to identify the Premier League footballer who is attempting to prevent discussion on Twitter about his affair with the former 'Big Brother' star Imogen Thomas.
Meanwhile, it was reported that a High Court judge had referred a journalist to the British attorney general, Dominic Grieve, to consider a criminal prosecution for breaching a privacy injunction with a tweet about another footballer.
The move could potentially mean that criminal proceedings would be brought against 30,000 people who have broken one or other of the contested injunctions by tweeting in recent days the identities of those involved.
Yet on a day when the increasingly farcical attempts of lawyers to restrict the flow of information about their clients unravelled further, a Scottish newspaper devoted its front page to a clearly recognisable photo of one of the footballers involved. Below the picture, a caption read: "Everyone knows that this is the footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret. But we weren't supposed to tell you that . . ."
The Scottish paper's editor said he printed the picture because he did not think it was bound by the English legal injunction. However, the paper did not name the footballer in its two-page spread on privacy, and Scottish lawyers questioned whether it would be able to defend its decision in court.
Campbell Deane, of the Scottish libel firm Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co, said he believed the paper was covered by the injunction and that charges could be brought against the editor and owners.
Meanwhile in England, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) was attempting to establish whether or not a request had been made by the High Court judge Mr Justice Tugendhat for the AGO to consider whether to issue criminal contempt proceedings against a journalist who broke the terms of an earlier injunction on Twitter by naming the footballer and making several other derogatory comments about him.
That led to a flurry of other tweets naming both footballers -- which by last night had risen to over 30,000. These included several high-profile users. One said: "Do Schillings (the law firm representing the footballers) plan to jail all 30,000+ Twitterers who have breached the super-injunction?" (© Independent News Service)