UK 'Superinjunction' Bans Anyone From Identifying Plaintiff In Libel Case

from the mr-z,-who-are-you? dept

The UK's ongoing attack on free speech continues, with a judge issuing a "superinjunction" against anyone in the UK identifying who "Mr Z" is in a libel case. This is apparently the first time such a superinjunction has been used in a libel case. Apparently, Mr Z is upset at some relatives who are accusing him of "misappropriating money from the trust fund and of a sex offence," both of which the mysterious Mr. Z insists are not true. Apparently the allegations have been published on a blog somewhere, but UK publications are forbidden from even giving people enough information to find that. Of course, all of this makes me wonder how effective any of this can be. It's really only a matter of time until people figure out who he is, and all this "super" secrecy is probably only increasing interest in what sounds like a pretty boring family feud otherwise.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 10:09pm

    This is why the US disassociated itself from England. Too bad we're starting to follow suit.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 10:11pm

    This is in the UK, so this may not be the case every time, but as this guy is suing for defamation, claiming the 'bad' content is false, wouldn't he want people to KNOW that he's not some money-grubbing rapist?

     

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  3.  
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    wtachi, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 10:17pm

    Publicity stunt?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 10:26pm

    He must be selling something I can boycott. That'd be a good reason for secrecy...

     

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  5.  
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    molecule (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 10:50pm

     

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  6.  
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    Adrian Lopez, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 10:51pm

    Libel laws in the UK are really fucked up.

    Read all about it:
    http://www.libelreform.org/

     

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  7.  
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    Brendan (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 11:30pm

    Mr. Z = Fred Goodwin

    Just to spell it out:

    Mr. Z = Sir Fred Goodwin, former Royal Bank of Scotland chief

     

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  8.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 12:34am

    So will this be a similar situation to Wikileaks, where even though anyone and everyone knew and had access to the cables, you had to pretend on your official work computers that the documents were classified? So I can name Mr Z on my Irish computer now if I want to, but if I happen to take a laptop with me on a day trip to London, I'm suddenly not allowed to name him?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 12:35am

    I agree with the court. Freedom of speech has nothing to do with publicising allegations which are in-progress. Wait until it is over before spreading the claims (proven or not) around the planet.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 12:52am

    Re:

    That is exactly what freedom of speech has to do with.

     

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  11.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 1:00am

    Re:

    Ah but libel in the UK doesn't care if it is true or not, so if one of the defences of the person who is allegedly libeling this "Mr Zed" is truth, then everyone would then know that YES he was a money-grubbing sex fiend who denies the truth.

    And bet ya a brass Razoo this guy is or wants to be a Tory politician.

     

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  12.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 1:03am

    Re: Mr. Z = Fred Goodwin

    Muwahahahahahahah


    From my prophetic comment above it seems I am now the owner of a Brass razoo ;)

     

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  13.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 1:21am

    Re:

    That's what defamation laws are for. There is no such thing as freedom of speech, sadly, regardless of your opinion. The allefations have been around for at least two years, for the person in question, who is generally considered a money-grabbing scrote, even by banker's standards.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Jake, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:01am

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, the popular press in this country have shown a depressing tendency to form their own conclusions about guilt or innocence (usually the former), and stick to said conclusions regardless of any subsequent evidence to the contrary. From the article:
    During the hearing on 3 March, Richard Spearman QC claimed it would be unfair to identify the financier, even though there was no truth in the allegations, because "the fact that [he] has had to seek relief would be capable of being made into a story in its own right and would be likely to lead to widespread speculation as to what story he has been concerned to prevent the defendants from telling". The court was told that employers and other family members had been contacted with the allegations.

    There's also the complicating factor of that allegation of an unspecified "sex offence", as victims of sexual assault in this country are supposed to be guaranteed anonymity.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:26am

    Re:

    The further England gets away from America the better (in 99.999% of cases) however having said that UK libel laws really do suck, although this doesnt mean we want to go down the American path, we are already suffering from following your horrendous blame and sue culture.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:29am

    Re:

    From the boingboing article linked by another comment, "the injunction also prohibits the press from disclosing that it exists". Even without going into the merits of being forbidden to name the guy, being forbidden to mention you are being forbidden to name the guy is insane.

     

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  17.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The sex offence allegation could be anything from harrassment to rape. The fact that he went and got s superinjunction only Streisanded the mounting issues this sorry excuse for a person has.

     

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  18.  
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    PeteProdge (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 4:21am

    Bernard Keane's tweets

    Have you seen the Twitter account of @BernardKeane yesterday? What an interesting chap he is.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:09am

    I smell a Super Duo:
    Copyright Man
    and Superinjunction Man save the day.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Mr. Z = Fred Goodwin

    That raises more questions. Could bloggers, who sometimes like to pretend they are "media", now be subject to those laws and be punished for the offense of publishing the information?

     

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  21.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:42am

    Kenny Farquharson: Sir Fred Goodwin's superinjunction - Scotland on Sunday http://bit.ly/dI42Ko

     

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  22.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:56am

    Well if it is Fred Goodwin, then it's likely true

    I mean, let's face it, he screwed the pooch when he ran RBS, so that makes the financial and the sexual charges pretty credible.

     

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  23.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 6:18am

    Re: Mr. Z = Fred Goodwin

    "Mr. Z = Sir Fred Goodwin, former Royal Bank of Scotland chief"

    I'm almost certain that's a separate story. I can find at least two stories that better fit the circumstances (misappropriations of family trust funds and allegations of sexual abuse), though I'm not certain either of those are the ones this injunction is referring to.

     

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  24.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Re: Bernard Keane's tweets

    "Have you seen the Twitter account of @BernardKeane yesterday? What an interesting chap he is."

    Thanks for that. Here's the original blog: http://guernseytrustvictims.blogspot.com/

     

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  25.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Mr. Z = Fred Goodwin

    OK, now I'm certain that it's not Fred Goodwin.

     

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  26.  
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    Chris Ball (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 6:33am

    Not public = not defamation

    My understanding is that for statements to be defamatory, by definition they must be public. Just talking sh*t about someone to your friends and family isn't defamation. So if you're a plaintiff and you think an injunction like this is going to do you any good, you probably don't have a case.

     

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  27.  
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    abc gum, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 6:55am

    UK 'Superinjunction' is Super Stupid

    You can't explain that.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Danny, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 7:10am

    Superinjunction?

    I don't know about you folks but this sounds childish. I'm not talking about the topic at hand I'm talking about the word itself. Like "dare, dog dare, and double dog dare" childish. I can barely say the word with a straight face.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    Speech goes in, injunction comes out.

    Never a miscommunication.

     

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  30.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Mr. Z = Fred Goodwin

    OK, so who are the other two?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re:

    Like I said, this case is in the UK. But if you look at what Mike wrote, it looks like the guy has told the court that the defamatory statements are untrue. It's not a question of legality, it's a question of stupidity.

     

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  32.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Not public = not defamation

    Just talking sh*t about someone to your friends and family isn't defamation.

    How many friends do you have? Are they on Facebook?

     

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  33.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Superinjunction?

    That's it. You're on Double Secret Probation!

     

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  34.  
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    Jay (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 2:05pm

    I dont mean to split hairs but isnt this just a normal injunction? Isn't the whole point of a super-injunction that the fact there is an injunction at all is supressed, if this were so the guardian would be in breach of it with their article...

    Whether or not there should be the ability to injunct someone based on information that has already been published or not is one question.

    Whether or not you should be able to stop someone saying there is even an injunction is another discussion...

     

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  35.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Re:

    I dont mean to split hairs but isnt this just a normal injunction? Isn't the whole point of a super-injunction that the fact there is an injunction at all is supressed, if this were so the guardian would be in breach of it with their article...

    I think the difference is that with a normal injunction, they'd be able to tell you who or what they can't talk about. With this gamma-ray enhanced injunction, they can't even tell you that much.

     

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  36.  
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    Brendan (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Re: Bernard Keane's tweets

    Quality:

    "So since everyone in the UK has stopped reading, we can report that Mr. ZAM is....MR. CHARLES MARTYN-HEMPHILL. (I hope that nobody in the UK cheated and read this section.)"

    Excellent.

     

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  37.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Apr 1st, 2011 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re:

    "I think the difference is that with a normal injunction, they'd be able to tell you who or what they can't talk about. With this gamma-ray enhanced injunction, they can't even tell you that much."

    Wikipedia agrees with Jay, but I'm unsure if there is an official definition or if that is based on how the term was used in news stories (too lazy to read citations).

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    pr, Apr 1st, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Superinjunction?

    Next will be the super-duper-injunction, which will forbid you from even thinking about it. Anyone who ponders whether or not the subject in question is an embezzling pervert will have to strike himself in the face with construction lumber.

     

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