UK Continues Issuing Tons Of Super Injunctions To Keep Famous People From Being Embarrassed

from the really-now? dept

We've discussed a few times now the bizarre anti-free speech trend in the UK -- of courts handing down injunctions completely barring anyone from naming individuals accused of various things (whether or not those things are true is not clear). Apparently, there have been a whole series of such injunctions lately, mainly involving famous people who don't want the world to know stuff about them:
Nearly 30 footballers, actors and television presenters have won injunctions in recent weeks alone, preventing the press from publishing details of their sexual indiscretions.
That story mentions how an MP had to be censored on the BBC, not for naming one of those individuals, but by suggesting a word that rhymed with the last name of one of those individuals.

But, of course, this is the internet. You can't keep people silent. As TorrentFreak points out, if you do a search, say, on Twitter of the woman one such football player was accused of having an affair with, Imogen Thomas (her name is public, it's the guy's name who's verboten) you can pretty quickly find lots of people claiming they know the name of the football player.

The same sort of thing seems to be happening for a number of the other folks associated with these super injunctions. I've seen some claims that say these UK injunctions are "worldwide" injunctions, but I can't see how UK law can be applied outside of the UK -- especially on speech issues. Last year, of course, the US passed the SPEECH Act, which makes it clear that US courts shouldn't enforce defamation rulings from foreign courts that are in conflict with the First Amendment, but I do wonder if that also can be stretched to cover these kinds of free speech denying super injunctions.

In the meantime, it's a pretty sad statement on the UK, where they seem to prioritize protecting famous people from having to be embarrassed over free speech concerns.

Filed Under: free speech, injunctions, super injunctions, uk

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  1. icon
    Andrew Foster (profile), 28 Apr 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: No such thing as UK law

    Heh. I take it you're not from the UK? That's definitely wrong, mate, sorry!

    I'm a Scottish law student; it was a separate legal system until 1707, when we joined with England. The respective common-laws were kept separate (meaning "the laws that come out of the courts", roughly), so you might be right that this particular judgement only applies in England and Wales - but there is definitely such a thing as UK law.

    The UK parliament can pass law for the whole UK on a specific set of matters, namely the ones that aren't assigned to the devolved (e.g. Scottish) legislatures - things like defence and IP law, as it happens. The UK's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is UK law.

    Truth be told, Parliament legally has impunity to make UK-wide law in any area, including those supposedly passed down to the Scottish Parliament etc... but it would be political suicide to do it without permission, for obvious reasons.

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