Sunday 19 November 2017

Giggs named as player at centre of gag order fiasco

Everyone knew who it was, says MP who made the disclosure

Oliver Wright

FOUR WEEKS of speculation, legal wrangling and mass civil disobedience on the internet came to an end yesterday when a British MP used parliamentary privilege to name Ryan Giggs as the premiership footballer at the centre of the super-injunction fiasco.

John Hemming named the Manchester United player during an urgent parliamentary question only hours after a High Court judge had ruled that a ban on naming him should stand.

Last night, Mr Justice Eady refused to lift the injunction despite the intervention -- raising the prospect that Mr Giggs could attempt to sue news organisations who have named him for damages.

To murmurs of disapproval, the Liberal Democrat said: "With about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all."

He was immediately interrupted by the Speaker, John Bercow, who rebuked him for flouting the law. However, it was too late, and within minutes Mr Giggs's name was being reported by mainstream news websites and television channels.

The exposure of Mr Giggs, who is alleged to have had an affair with 'Big Brother' contestant Imogen Thomas, is unlikely to put the issues surrounding super-injunctions to rest, with about 60 of them still in force.

Yesterday, Britain's attorney general announced that the government was setting up a joint committee of both houses of parliament to look at what changes to the law were needed in the light of the widespread flouting of the injunctions. Such a move could, for the first time, result in some form of privacy legislation being passed by Parliament. Earlier in the afternoon, Mr Justice Eady had rejected a fresh application by News Group Newspapers (NGN) on behalf of 'The Sun' to dis charge the privacy injunction relating to CTB -- the initials used to identify Ryan Giggs to the court -- on the basis that to continue it would be "futile", given recent widespread publicity about his identity. But rejecting the application, Mr Justice Eady said: "It is obvious that wall-to-wall excoriation in national newspapers is likely to be significantly more intrusive and distressing for those concerned than the availability of information on the internet."

Speaking before the injunction was breached, British Prime Minister David Cameron indicated he also knew Mr Giggs' identity "like everybody else".

"It is rather unsustainable, this situation where newspapers can't print something that clearly everybody else is talking about, but there's a difficulty here because the law is the law and the judges must interpret what the law is," he said.

"The danger is that judgments are effectively writing a new law which is what parliament is meant to do."

The prime minister suggested that one route might be to strengthen the Press Complaints Commission. "It's not fair on the newspapers if all the social media can report this and the newspapers can't, so the law and the practice has got to catch up," he added.(© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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