Part 2 of my blog series on Injunctions, Super-Injunctions and Privacy will focus on the issue of Super-injunctions. I think it would be prudent to once again state what an Injunction is and what a “super-injunction” is as there is a lot of confusion, especially in the wider mainstream media as to what each is.
An Injunction is an order issued by the Court that prevents a person from doing a particular act. So that could be naming the victim in criminal proceedings involving children under 16 or the victim in a rape case. Moving away from criminal law it could be an injunction to prevent an anticipatory breach of contract or to prevent the printing in the media of untruths about a person.
A super-injunction is an injunction that has an additional layer of protection attached to it whereby the media cannot even report that the injunction exists. It is not one where anonymity has merely been granted, that is an anonymity injunction. The media are free to report about injunctions that have been granted where one party remains anonymous (provided that they do not break the terms of the injunction such as revealing who the anonymous individual is), they are not free to report that a super-injunction exists. The wider public should not know that one of these injunctions exists.
In the case of the footballer whose name is widely known but in terms of the injunction is only known as CTB this was not a super-injunction. Had it been a super-injunction the media would not have been able to report that an injunction had been granted. The injunction merely prevented the media from revealing the name of the footballer in question.
Having read the judgment of the Court and the reasons why such an injunction was granted I must say that I find no real reason was to why the Injunction should not have been granted. The narrative of the case suggests that the allegations that appeared in the paper were false and indeed that blackmail (a criminal offence) may have occurred. The media cannot be allowed to print libellous and defamatory stories about a person. The case of CTB is not a case where the footballer in question has done something wrong and is now trying to prevent it from coming out in order to protect his reputation, but rather is preventing what appear to be libellous statements about him being printed.
I am in no doubt in my mind that the ability of a person whether they be in the public eye or not to prevent what they deem to be libellous and defamatory information about them from being printed is a good thing. How would you feel if the papers suddenly printed a story about you that suggests you acted unfaithfully towards your spouse, that in your mind is untrue and the evidence that exists was staged and part of a blackmail plot? One would imagine you would want to do everything in your power from stopping such a story being printed. Granted, the chances of that happening to someone outside of the public eye are remote, but it could be demonstrated equally as well with any number of more realistic situations for the average member of society.
The problem I have with super-injunctions is the secrecy of them. They cannot be open to scrutiny as they are entirely secret. They go beyond granting anonymity to the Claimant and mean that nobody outside of the parties, Counsel, Solicitors and Judge should know of its existence. I am sure there are perfectly good reasons for such injunctions to exist in terms of National Security and such like, but when it comes down to protecting the private life of individuals in the public eye I believe that is a step too far. They prevent, for example, a party to the injunction raising the issue with their elected representatives should they wish representation by their MP or local councillors.
As I have said in part 1 and will explore in more detail in part 3, privacy is essential in our lives. Each one of us, whether we are in the public eye or not, are entitled to some level of privacy. The right to a private and family life is important, but you will just have to wait for my thoughts on that.
NOTE: While the name of the footballer in question is in the public domain, the injunction remains in force. Any comments posted on this blog that name the footballer in the CTB v NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS case will either be deleted or redacted. This blog does not endorse the wilful breaching of court orders.