How many of us would like to see details of our private lives publicised? These details don’t have to be salacious or immoral. And the publication does not have to be worldwide on the Internet, it could be a notice pinned to the lamp-post at the end of the street, the company intranet or a local newspaper.
I personally would not want any aspect of my life publicised without my consent, not because I have something to hide, but because I am entitled to privacy. If I have not committed a crime, then why should others, for instance judge me with *their* morality.
So I do find a little distasteful the glee with which some (mostly anonymous) tweeters broke and continue to break the privacy injunction obtained by a certain Premier League footballer. The glee and bravado increased after the footballer applied for a disclosure order against Twitter to obtain details of tweeters who broke the injunction (so presumably he can sue them).
There seems to be a lot of “well he had an affair so he is fair game”, I do not agree; we do not know why he did so or what the circumstances were with his own marriage, and to be honest, I do not want to know. And all this “moral indignation” against the footballer may be seen, if I am unkind, as merely jealousy with a halo (H G Wells) …
Whether or not they are anonymous behind a Twitter avatar or a member of the House of Lords, people who have not seen the evidence before the court and therefore unaware of all the circumstances of the case should not flout court orders just because they do not agree with them. It sets a dangerous precedent and undermines the Rule of Law and due process.
Apart from the mob rule, there is also hypocrisy because some of these tweeters are also vehement critics of UKuncut. UKuncut does not agree with some UK Revenue laws, so some of its members took direct action and in the process have been charged with aggravated trespass. The tweeters who broke that injunction also took direct action and they have also broken the law in the process. You do not like your garden shed, so you set fire to it, and then sit back and say that shed was useless and is definitely useless now.
There is a difficult balance to be struck between an individual’s right to privacy, freedom of speech and the “public interest”. The latter must be examined to see whether it is in the public interest to grant, or not grant, a privacy injunction.
Some say the law concerning injunctions is farcical as the injunction has been broken by so many people BUT just because a law is difficult (though not impossible) to enforce outside the jurisdiction of the English courts (eg. in US or Scotland) does NOT make it farcical in itself.
It now appears that a well known news & TV journalist could be prosecuted for contempt of court after he/she identified another footballer on Twitter for private “indiscretions”… Even if he/she is not prosecuted in the criminal courts, a civil action for breach of injunction may well result in damages.
My mother always taught me to treat others how I would like to be treated.