Posts Tagged ‘Paper’

Is the UK journalist who broke the Super Injunction asking for a test case in court?

May 23, 2011

By Dark Politicks

It seems I wasn’t far from wrong in my last article: UK Super Injunctions prove #altnews is the premier source of real news when I said:

It would not surprise me in the slightest if the person or persons behind the Twitter accounts that are leaking the super injunction info are not far removed from the papers themselves.

It seems that I was spot on. Not only are the lawyers for one of the footballers covered by an injunction trying to sue Twitter to get details of the person behind an account breaching the injunctions but the Daily Mail reported yesterday that:

A journalist on one of Britain’s most respected newspapers – who also appears on a widely-viewed BBC programme – could face a jail sentence after naming on Twitter a Premier League footballer who had taken out a privacy injunction.

In the first case of its kind, lawyers for the soccer star have persuaded a High Court judge to ask Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC to consider a criminal prosecution against the writer for breaching a privacy injunction. If Mr Grieve decides to issue contempt of court proceedings, the individual faces a prison sentence of up to two years.

The unprecedented legal action is the latest attempt by a public figure to try to curb the growing use of the Internet – especially Twitter – to expose the adulterous affairs and misbehaviour of celebrities and footballers.

As the UK Courts are criticised for creating a privacy law through the back door and our Parliament is accused of lagging behind the huge changes in social media these are interesting times in the UK as two “Human Rights” battle each other out for supremacy.

Article 8 provides a right to respect for one’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence”, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and“necessary in a democratic society”.

and

Article 10 provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society“. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas.

So we have the right of freedom of speech battling it out with the right of those who can afford expensive lawyers to take out injunctions to protect their private life.

Scanning the list of named individuals on one of the Twitter accounts at the centre of the storm this usually this comes down to the fact that a famous man has been caught having an affair or some form of sexual shenanigans and is trying to prevent his wife or family from finding out the details.

As Mark Easton says on his recent blog posting:

What is private? And, when push comes to shove, who should decide?

The arguments of the last week have exposed an ancient tension between Parliament and the judiciary.

Politicians, including the prime minister, have expressed concern that “unelected judges” are using the Human Rights Act to create a privacy law on the hoof.

Basically, they are saying: “Get your undemocratic tanks off our lawn”.

On Friday two of the most senior judges in England and Wales lobbed the criticism back saying that, by passing the Human Rights Act, Parliament has already effectively created a privacy law, and it was down to the poor old judges to try to make sense of the confusion and mess.

The Super Injunction system is plainly ridiculous at the injunctions seem to only cover media covered by English law and this was proved right when yesterday the Sunday Herald published details of one the footballers covered by such an injunction. They claimed that

“The issue is one of freedom of information and of a growing argument in favour of more restrictive privacy laws.”

He added that he had taken extensive legal advice and was not expecting any legal consequences because the injunction was not valid in Scotland – only in England.

His paper, he said, was not published, distributed or sold in England.

Therefore it will be interesting to see how far the lawyers trying to get hold of Twitter account details regarding breaches of other injunctions will get.

Twitter is a US based company and presumably covered by US law and the First Amendment which prohibits the making of any law infringing on the freedom of speech or the freedom of the press.

As bloggers, micro bloggers, Tweets and personal websites could be classified as “citizen journalism” then surely the account the Tweets came from would be protected by this law if based in the USA.

However if the account was based in England or Wales or the computer used to post the tweet came from an IP address located in the countries covered by the super injunction e.g England, Wales and Northern Ireland then there could be case made for a breach.

I cannot believe a tech savvy journalist would have been so stupid to open an account up in his own name, using his real email address and then post messages knowingly from an English IP address unless he wanted to be caught.

There are so many mechanisms nowadays to avoid having to do this such as using Proxy Servers based overseas and Disposable Email Accounts that are untraceable that anyone caught breaching Super Injunctions by micro blogging could only be asking for a chance to bring a test case to a UK court.

Maybe that is exactly what this supposedly famous UK journalist wanted to do in the first place.

Advertisements