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. identicon
    IanVisits, 26 Apr 2011 @ 8:02am

    While there are legitimate reasons for the protection of free speech, do we really want to live in a society where something you do in the privacy of your own home can be splashed all over the press the next week?

    Remember that most of the people that the tabloids target are not famous because they sell their stories to the magazines every week, but because the tabloids themselves have declared that person to be famous.

    A lot of "mr averages" have ended up being hounded by the tabloids simply because they were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place (or the right place, from the tabloid's perspective).

    For all the fuss about a few super-injunctions, we still have a UK where the tabloid press will publish almost anything - and rarely accurately - about anyone, and there is very little that can be done to demand corrections or even just stop them printing lies in the first place.

    A couple of sentences in the 5th page printed a year or two later after lengthy and expensive libel battles will never undo the damage from the lies printed on the front page of a tabloid paper.

    Then again, at least in the UK we can flash a nipple on the TV screen without half the country fainting in shock.

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