Posts Tagged ‘Super Injunction’

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.

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Super Injunctions reinforce #altnews as premier source of news for public

May 11, 2011

By Dark Politricks

The Super Injunction fiasco just goes to show once again that the lame stream media cares more about bikini snaps of Pippa and Kate Middleton than any kind of real investigative reporting. Once again it is left to the #altnews sites on the web to report the stories that the mainstream media would rather you didn’t know.

Whilst the Middle East is up in arms with dictators and Arab leaders assassinating dissidents our papers are full of Royal weddings and snaps of their relatives on holiday in skimpy swimwear.

Whilst NATO planes bomb disabled schools for children with Down Syndrome and Palestinians are on the brink of reconciliation between Gaza and the West Bank our papers are engaged in stoking up strife for the coalition by leaking ancient stories about Chris Huhne to avenge the story that he had attacked the Tories in cabinet over their No to AV campaign posters.

Whilst nuclear reactors in Japan leak deadly radioactive waste into the air and Stuxnet viruses run lose with people linking the virus with the Japanese meltdown our news is full of insignificant guff about Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole in the USA starting a new X-Factor show.

Whilst the White House tell falsehood after falsehood about the Pakistani raid that supposedly led to the assassination of the worlds most wanted terrorist. And whilst the lamestream media just take Obama’s word that the only option was to assassinate what would have been the intelligence opportunity of a lifetime by taking him alive and instead executing him unarmed before dumping his body in the sea the UK media are fretting about their right to sell newspapers based on the kiss and tell stories of tarts and illegally obtained private information.

It was interesting to see this morning on the 24 hour news channels the journalists brought out to defend “free speech” as the UK Press likes to call paparazzi snaps of the vaguely famous and their sleazy sex stories involving footballers and reality TV stars was from the Guardian and not the News of the World.

Not that there is much difference between the two apart from a supposed air of respectability that the Guardian carries but it would have been interesting to watch a reporter from one of Murdochs rags currently embroiled in phone hacking scandals try and sell themselves as defenders of free speech.

The case of a privacy law by the backdoor has been brought to a head by a number of factors which include details of the people involved in these super injunctions leaked on the internet, the phone hacking scandal and Max Mosley’s attempt at creating a European law to force newspapers to warn people before exposing their private lives.

Due to the UK’s subservience to European law and our lack of a privacy law or Bill of Rights enshrining our right to free speech such as that in the USA it has been left to the UK courts to create a situation in which people with money and a penchant for sexual scandal are granted privacy and the papers lose out on a titillating headline.

These people after being rumbled by the paparazi or tipped off before being exposed by the gutter press are using the UK courts to block details of their affairs from coming to light through that prevent the press from displaying details of the people involved and even the fact that an injunction is in place.

The papers claim that it’s the public right to know and their freedom to print gossip and salacious tat that is at risk due to their victims right under article 8 of the Human Rights Act to respect for one’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence” and protection for “private and family life”.

Of course the argument the press is pushing is a false one and as anybody who reads British tabloids should know it is being used by the papers to paint themselves as defenders of free speech sticking up for the common man’s right to know who Jemima Khan has been sleeping with rather than the peddlers of filth and irrelevant nonsense they really are.

The recent snaps of the Middleton sisters are a case in example as even if their legal action is successful the pictures are out in the public sphere, the public have had their fill of bikini shots and any damage to their reputation has already been done. Even with a front page apology and a big fat settlement the genie cannot be put back in the box so to speak.

Max Mosely himself has said a number of times to gain an injunction in the UK courts is pretty hard and the burden of proof is on the person seeking the injunction to prove that the allegations about to be published are either false or serve no public interest and would severely affect the persons right to privacy under the Human Rights Act.

Instead of preventing legitimate stories of political corruption from being published the press would lose out on all those so so important kiss and tell stories that are the mainstay of certain fleet street publications. As Max Mosley said:

“This is just about whether the newspapers should have the right to publicise very private aspects of people’s lives which there’s no public interest in at all – it’s just purely for titillation and to sell newspapers,” he told the BBC.

Today the judges in Strasbourg agreed that the publication of the story involving his “Nazi Orgy” resulted in “a flagrant and unjustified invasion” of Mosley’s private life. However they also ruled that, under the European Convention on Human Rights, the media was not required to give prior notice before printing a story.

They said in the UK the right to a private life was already protected by self-regulation of the press, access to civil courts to seek damages, and interim injunctions where applicable.

Therefore unless our government enacts a law covering our right to privacy that is balanced with our right to free speech it seems we are left with the unworkable situation which we have at the moment in which a press that cannot be trusted to regulate itself will be in constant battle with the courts.

Whilst judges issue injunctions that prevent the UK print media and TV news from running certain stories someone withinternet access can easily find out all the info they require. The papers might be blocked from telling use who Rooney or Giggs has been screwing lately but overseas papers, the blogosphere, and social media sites like Twitter continue to satisfy the needs of those people who give a shit.

The Tory Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said Parliament, not judges, should make decisions about privacy issues and that it was a “crazy situation” that super-injunctions were banning newspapers from publishing stories which were freely available online. A former Lord chancellor Lord Falconer also repeated that Twitter had now rendered super-injunctions “pointless”.

For those of us who care about real news stories this is just a sideshow that distracts everybody from stories that actually matter instead of those that do not.

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.

Once the information is out in the public sphere there is less chance a judge will grant an injunction and the Internet is the perfect place to anonymously post gossip and then use that publication as a way of saying “either grant a worldwide injunction or crackdown on the net”. The first is impossible to achieve and the second is being advanced upon piece by piece.

So for those people who care about the freedom of the press to invade your privacy and tell the nation about your sexual activities, kinky fetishes and print photo’s of your semi naked body then today’s ruling in the EU Court of Human Rights should come as a happy moment.

Mad Max couldn’t get his law implemented to ensure the press tell any potential subjects of a story before it’s published so the only recourse for those people affected by such public attacks in the press is to continue down the road of injunctions, post print apologies and civil court fines if the press goes too far.

Until our elected politicians, some of which are rumoured to have their own super-injunctions, enact a law to draw a line in the sand between privacy and free speech then we will have to rely on the internet for our gossip as well as our real news and analysis.