Ryan Giggs’ case provokes new questions about ‘super injunctions’

January 2012

Artistes, broadcasters, press

The Ryan Giggs privacy case has ended up as a bit of a disaster for Giggs himself, a married father of two, his reputation in tatters, and hasn’t done much for the High Court’s seeming approval of so called privacy ‘super injunctions’ for celebrities – well, that’s according to those very same august organs of the press barred from initially reporting the story –  until Gigg’s name was leaked onto the internet, ‘tweeted’ 75000 times, published by the Sunday Herald in Scotland and his name mentioned in Parliament by John Hemming MP.

Mr Justice Eady, who granted the order, had rejected a second application by News Group Newspapers to discharge a privacy injunction relating to Giggs, on the basis that to continue it would be “futile”, given recent widespread publicity about his identity saying “It has never been suggested, of course, that there is any legitimate public interest, in the traditional sense, in publishing this information” adding “The court’s duty remains to try and protect the claimant, and particularly his family, from intrusion and harassment so long as it can.”

Giggs has now been forced to admit that some allegations about his former lover Imogen Thomas which led to the order being made were simply untrue. Mr Justice Eady had unfortunately believed Gigg’s claim (made against former model and Big Brother contestant Thomas without her presence in court) in the case of CTB v News Group Newspapers, but in an unprecedented move a public statement was read out in the High Court vindicating her reputation. In his evidence Giggs had said that he believed from a story in the Sun newspaper that Thomas was planning to sell her story to the press, had asked him for money to buy a flat and had retained the services of PR guru Max Clifford, leading him to suspect a blackmail plot. The Sun, who had been chasing the story, confirmed that his understanding was wrong, and Thomas said she had engaged Clifford to protect her own privacy. Thomas’s barrister, David Price QC told the Times that he believed that in the future judges would be ‘more cautious’ in cases where blackmail was alleged and one side not represented. Mr Justice Eady said that “There is no longer any point in maintaining the anonymity”.

The Giggs case is the latest in a series of super injunctions which have been awarded to the BBC political journalist Andrew Marr and BBC Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson amongst others that have ultimately proved unworkable in the modern age – and with the Marr case raised some serious questions of how one of the nation’s leading political pundits could get such widespread blanket protection after he had asked for an extra marital affair with another journalist to be shielded from the press (politely described as a ‘touch hypocritical’) and with Clarkson how a national figure working for a public service broadcaster could get an order preventing his ex-wife revealing details of their ongoing affair after he re-married. Giggs recently faced fresh allegations that he had an eight year affair with his brother’s wife, Natasha Giggs.

Also in the United Kingdom a plethora of celebrities including Sheryl Gasgoigne, J K Rowling and Sienna Miller have been giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking, with three, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Max Mosley – also appearing before a joint committee of the House of Commons and the House of Lords to talk about privacy and “gagging” injunctions. Also invited to talk to peers and MPs at the latter were regulators and self-regulators, including Ofcom and the now much discredited Press Complaints Commission. Moseley, former president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) the governing body of Formula One Grand Prix, won a court case against the News of the World newspaper in 2008 which had exposed his involvement in a sadomasochistic sex act involving several female prostitutes on the grounds that it had breached his privacy. He was awarded £60,000 in damages my Mr Justice Eady who said he could expect privacy for consensual “sexual activities (albeit unconventional)”. Mosely has also won an privacy action in France, with the same newspaper being fined E10,000, Moseley awarded E7,000 and the newspaper paying court costs of E15,000. In 2009 Mosley brought a case against the UK’s privacy laws in the European Court of Human Rights in a bid to force newspapers to warn people before exposing their private lives so they could have the opportunity to seek a court injunction. The case was rejected by the Court on 10 May 2011 and an appeal to the Grand Chamber was rejected in September 2011.




http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13190424 (Andrew Marr)


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7523034.stm ( Max  Mosely – High Court))

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13341058 (Max Mosley – EHCR)

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