The Truth Is Out – Super-Injunctions Are (Hopefully) Dead

As with Trafigura, so it was with Ryan Giggs, for Gentleman of Football. Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming named Ryan Giggs (previously known on this blog as Stupid English Footballer)(when he should have been known as Stupid Welsh Footballer, thank you commenter) in parliament as the footballer at the centre of the current super-injunction row. The vanity of a footballer who plays for the very famous Manchester United is now in serious tatters, but it was long-gone before he was actually named.

I said in my previous post that it was unlikely that celebrity affairs were going to be brought up in Parliament as they were hardly in the national interest. They’re not. If Ryan Giggs is stupid enough to cheat on his wife in five-star hotels with an instantly recognisable former reality television star, that’s his own business. Giggs’ fall from grace is entirely of his own making and during his fall he managed to hit everything he could to ensure a blood corpse. Sure, it takes two to tango and Imogen Thomas must have been nuts for thinking it was a good idea, but Giggs couldn’t be bothered springing the extra cash to suppress her identity as well. The Sun newspaper’s crowd-sourcing of the legal risk has worked a treat, aided and abetted by the wonderful concept of parliamentary privilege.

It brings into sharper focus the fact that super-injunctions were being misused by celebrities who were protecting their hide, rather than the truly vulnerable. British PM David Cameron has (yawn) promised a review of privacy laws but what I’m interested in is the fact that this went from being someone protecting their privacy (however vainly) to the issue actually, genuinely, being in the national interest. It became the national interest because it once again raised the question of what the point of a super-injunction is and how are they even allowed in a society with a free press?

The facts of the super-injunction are pretty sordid and, in and of themselves, a waste of the paper and the oxygen and megabytes consumed to discuss them. We’re hardly surprised a footballer can’t keep his pants on (although one wonders about the staggering choice of using 5-star hotels, public places, in which to conduct the affair), but the fact that such unimportant information can be suppressed by a national instrument such as the court system is profoundly troubling. It’s astonishing that this stuff even reaches a court room.

The issue of whether this affair is newsworthy or not is another matter. I don’t believe it is, but millions of Sun, Daily Mail, Express and whatever other tabloid you can think of seem to think it is, as long as the woman is attractive and the celebrity famous enough. The twist, of course, is Giggs’ hypocrisy which one supposes just scrapes it into a very wide definition of news.

The founding purpose of super-injunctions appear to be lost in the mists of time but they were certainly not designed for this sort of stupidity. It seems to me they can be used for things that are just embarrassing rather than a matter of national security because separate legislation handles national secrets and security.

With the age of over-sharing via Twitter, Facebook and the open Internet, we have a terrific, anonymised way for the world to find stuff out. Giggs and his irksome ilk are now going to have to behave themselves like normal humans or wear the consequences of their transgressions. The price of their fame is that, sadly, they will be pursued by the very people and institutions that make them famous. The media gives with one hand and takes with the other. Once they tire of you or they sniff hypocrisy, you will be splashed across the pages of the national dailies, complete with judgmental commentary. Facts are optional and often invented to increase the outrage factor.

On the upside, it might stop you from cheating on our wife, embarrassing your family and making you a figure of hate and/or international ridicule. The wheels have fallen off the well-polished family-man Giggs’ wagon – well, they fell off when he basically tried to sue the entire Internet – but the hubcaps of super-injunctions themselves are lying in a ditch beside the motorway as the wheelnuts undo themselves. The centuries-old tradition of parliamentary privilege has twice destroyed the assault on the public interest that super-injunctions are.

The truth is out and the biggest, if not the first, casualty of this war is the ignoble practice of super-injunctions.

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