Thursday 14 November 2019

Making a twit of the law

IN one corner you had a celebrated footballer and his intimate relations with a TV star, in the other the courts, media, the Houses of Parliament, and thousands of internet users. It was always going to be an unequal contest, but exactly who wins in the tawdry super-injunction saga between Ryan Giggs and the rest of the world is hard to tell.

There has been a growing unease at a system that allows the wealthy to retreat behind writs while the less well-off are thrown to the wolves because they cannot afford judicial armour.

Might is seldom always right, but when 35,000 internet users saw fit to unmask the Manchester United hero as the married lover of Imogen Thomas all the courts could do was fume.

Mr Giggs had gone to considerable expense to protect his privacy, seemingly to no avail. As things stand, traditional media are at an enormous disadvantage; at a more personal level so too are the rights of the individual. It would appear that technology has changed at too fast a pace for our learned friends.

The gagging orders had been reduced to absurdity because they appeared unable to restrain tens of thousands of "tweeters". This case will have far-reaching significance. Traditionally, newspapers have been obedient. However, their position is being undermined because the information is so readily available on the internet.

Last week, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice of England, expressed surprise that "someone who has a true claim for protection" should be "at the mercy of modern technology".

Whether dealing with" twits" or "tweets" all are supposed to be equal before the law, we may not have heard the end of this.

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