U.K. press gagged by politician, footballer

In two days, a politician and a celebrity in the U.K. have won legal injunctions prohibiting the press there from writing certain things about them. No details are clear, naturally, but it's known that one of the "superinjunctions" conceals details of an extramarital affair. [Guardian]

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  1. Umm, I don’t see what the fuss is about. Everybody knows that the footballer in question has been amicably separated from his wife for as long as we’ve been at war with East Asia, which is to say, forever. Tempest in a teapot.

    1. Not everybody knows the details of this footballer in question. I don’t even know who this footballer in question. Could you please violate the injunction and tell?

  2. Living in the US, it can be easy to take our freedoms of speech and press for granted. It surprises me that such a closely-related modern republic like the UK can have such bizarre restrictions on them. ‘Superinjunctions’ and onerous libel laws seem to stand at odds with the basic principals that the West rightly cherishes.

    1. escept we aren’t a republic (regretably) and don’t actually have many significant freedom of speech provisions in our legal system (or even a written consstituion for that matter)

  3. Not only should we reveal the details here, I’m looking at domain names right now to host any information under injunction by this law. Just for shits and giggles.

  4. Just for those in the US who aren’t clear about this: The UK is a parliamentary monarchy, not a republic or a democracy. We have NO constitution, we do not have freedom of speech.

    Remind me again, what century is this?

    1. That’s just plain wrong. We do not have a constitutional DOCUMENT, the British constitution is purposefully uncodified because it then allows the law to evolve based on precedent. In democratic terms, we’re not too dissimilar from the US, though neither countries are as democratic as say Norway or Switzerland.

    2. And yet, the US would seem to be at least as bad as the UK about infringing basic civil liberties like freedom of expression. The only difference seems to be that in the US it has to be sufficiently secret, relatively small-scale, and/or simply unobjected to. Unfortunately, “relatively small-scale” in the US can mean a state of equivalent size to most nations, “unobjected to” generally covers most things that target an unpopular group of brown people, and “secret” makes it worse really, not better.

      I think there are several lessons here about the real significance, or lack thereof, of a representative “democracy’s” constitution – or “monarchy,” or whatever. One might argue that codifying and legalizing what are basically bedrock principles of the modern West dating back to Voltaire, or even Marsilius of Padua, creates complacency, confines debate to abstract legalism, and narrowly constrains what can be legally considered a basic right – something several of the founders were deeply concerned about. There’s no general right to privacy *at all* in the US Constitution – the nebulous penumbras of certain SCOTUS decisions notwithstanding – and and it has created all sorts of problems, which can’t be easily corrected because the addition of basic liberties is treated as a modification to a sacred text.

      Don’t buy the bullshit American line (and I say this as so far-lifelong US resident and citizen) that human rights and republican government were our unique revelation to humanity, rendered immanent in the post-historical Third Testament of the Constitution. Representative democracy has many of the same problems and virtues whatever its semi-mythical ideological underpinnings.

  5. Everytime they pull this shit we need to publish it on the internet.

    For instance, put the names in here!

  6. Before: I did not know, and I did not know what I did not know.

    After: I don’t need to know, but I must know. Now!

    Candy and kids: If you put the jar up on a high shelf, they want it just that much more.

  7. I don’t understand. We live in the age of the Internet. Why don’t journalists simply write under a pseudonym on some US website? Or are there so few of these injunctions that it doesn’t matter?

  8. If they’re gonna hang out with their wang out they should be prepared to be punched in the shlong. Can any unfaithful married sex addict get one of these beef-injunctions or do you have to be rich first?

  9. @Salviati

    It surprises me that such a closely-related modern republic like the UK can have such bizarre restrictions on them.

    It’s not fundamentally bizarre, it’s acknowledging that absolute free speech can mean impinging on someone’s right to privacy.

    European Convention on Human Rights – Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

    So under the ECHR (which, despite all the whinging of the Tory press, was drafted by a team led by a man who went on to be Tory Home Secretary), there is a limit to free speech.

    Where I might disagree with these superinjunctions is the border set between infringing privacy and infringing free speech.

  10. Grumblefish says it perfectly. I don’t like the idea of prior-restraint laws, but given the sickening nature of the modern press, I’m beginning to see an argument.

    Why should becoming successful footballer, or musician, or film star, or even a member of the royal family, indicate that someone’s private life becomes fair game for public comment?

    (Politicians are a different case; they’re making policy and should expect to be examined closely while they do so. Still… the press in this country has a lousy history of even treatment of politicians.)

    I don’t understand why anyone not directly involved cares whether this man had an affair, much less is willing to pay money to a newspaper to hear more, but that’s personal taste and I appear to be outvoted. But the fact that a majority are willing to pay for this doesn’t automatically make it a public good that it can be sold. If I did this to someone as a private citizen it would – rightly – be seen as deeply creepy, scary, invasive stalking. Why does that change if I wear a press pass while I do it?

    If you believe freedom of speech is an absolute good, then there’s a reasonable case to be made. But even in that case, there are places in the UK where it’s under much more serious attack.

    1. “I don’t understand why anyone not directly involved cares whether this man had an affair…”

      Because a lot of people still believe that adultery is a very bad thing, and that it should not be ignored under the guise of respecting the offender’s “privacy”.

  11. “Why should becoming successful footballer, or musician, or film star, or even a member of the royal family, indicate that someone’s private life becomes fair game for public comment?”

    Because those fucks earn 200 000 times more than I do. That’s why.

  12. “Why should becoming successful footballer, or musician, or film star, or even a member of the royal family, indicate that someone’s private life becomes fair game for public comment?”

    Because they pay publicists to spread misinformation and lies.
    Basically, if you ever put out press releases, you’re fair game for scrutiny. If you ever published a biography, you are fair game.
    Most people don’t do these things.

    1. Because as humans we have the right to talk and think. And reality is reality. And if you find out about something you find out about it. Secrets are only secrets until someone finds out. The reason why anyone should be able to write about anyone truthfully is so self evident it’s trite and begins to sound like a tautology.

  13. @aldasin,

    I’ll add too, that by their socially recognized position, they become models of behavior; when they take part in advertising, they are offering us a product based on Aristotle’s ‘ethos’ which should demand attention to how they conduct their affairs.

    If you don’t want to be scrutinized, don’t be a public figure.

    Lanval

  14. The entire law anywhere boils down to this

    I will obey the law in relation to you and you will obey the same law in relation to me that way we can live secure in the knowledge that we both live by the same rules.

    You want these people to not have privacy due to some arbitrary reasons? Well give up your right to privacy first before you ask someone else to give up there’s.

    What are your secrets that you don’t want share you all have them every single one of you out there.

    Give up your privacy first then you can ask other people to give up there’s.

    Otherwise shut the hell up

  15. By the way, it’s mildly amusing that BB, the Guardian etc. are so casually breaching the terms of the “superinjunction” by mentioning that it exists.

    What a loony world the courts live in, eh?

  16. The people in question are Ryan Giggs, Hugh Bonneville, David Threlfall, David Schneider, Jeremy Clarkson, Gordon Ramsey. Still unsure about the MP though.

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