Monday, 23 May 2011

No Sex Please, We're British

The super-injunction argument took another turn yesterday when the Sunday Herald published the name of the Welsh footballer at the centre of Saturday’s twitter-storm.  Their argument is that they believe that it is wrong that this individual should hide behind the injunction especially as his name is now all over the Twittersphere.  They also believed that the injunction does not have any jurisdiction here in Scotland, and that the person has so far not taken out an equivalent interim interdict (the Scots law equivalent to an injunction).

While the Herald has a very valid point over the creeping damage to the public interest, it does their argument no good whatsoever to jump on the bandwagon regarding what is in effect flimsy gossip.  The ideal story to voice their concerns about the rise of the Super-Injunction would have been the Fred Goodwin story, which is more in the public interest than what a Welsh footballer gets up to.

To recap.  It emerged last week that Fred Goodwin was involved in an affair with a senior executive.  What has not come out, and if the Herald were really serious about freedom of speech they would have published this, is when this affair occurred.  Did it happen at the same time as the purchase of ABN Amro?  Was this the distraction that caused Goodwin to press ahead with the purchase before the necessary debt reports were published, and what kind of an influence did he/she hold over Goodwin?

There are other super-injunctions in force, designed to prevent from public eyes information deeply in the public interest.  The “private” information that an MOD advisor passed on to an unknown person, the financial arrangements of a chief executive of a global company while it was in financial difficulties and information from a number of criminal cases, where anonymous figures have been accused in court of attempted blackmail.  All of these instances are occasions were someone’s right to privacy has been deemed to me worth more than the public interest.

Yet, rather predictably, outrage has focused on the story of Imogen Thomas, who had an affair with our anonymous (to people in England) footballer.  The outrage comes from the red top tabloids who fear that a privacy law would put an end to the decades of celebrity tittle tattle & flim flam masquerading as news.  At a stroke it once again shows up the deeply immature attitude towards sex that we Brits hold.  An attitude rooted somewhere around 14 years old.  It is this attitude that feeds peoples appetite for stories about the private lives of footballers, soap stars and other people in the spotlight.

There is a serious issue regarding the use of super-injunctions to block information being made which ties in to London’s reputation as the Libel capital of the world.  The Sunday Herald’s headline grabbing act yesterday I think is counter productive, considering that there is better examples that are a lot closer to home than an English Championship winning Welsh Footballer.

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