Injunctions, Hypocrisy & Ukuncut

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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.

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About Art Li

Briefly, I am a lawyer, keen amateur photographer, dog lover and politics junkie but not a member of any party. Full details on Biography page. Follow me on Twitter @Art_Li.
This entry was posted in Freedom of speech, Law, Politics, Ukuncut, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Injunctions, Hypocrisy & Ukuncut

  1. SimonG_1 says:

    Not sure if physical, violent action can be put in the same terms as a footballer spending tens of thousands of pounds trying to prevent a story that would briefly appear in the tabloids. To then go and spend yet even more money trying to prevent an American company to prevent disclosure is just ludicrous – I would suggest that whoever gave him that advice should have some serious questions put to it. Was that good advice or an opportunity to get even more fee’s from a client? Hadn’t they heard of the first amendment?

    I take your point about privacy and I despise the publics obsession with celebrity tittle tattle. However the super injunctions have wider implications for justice and freedom than someone who is alleged to be sleeping with someone else. It also takes some gall to be hugging your kids on the TV and playing the family man while having a less than moral lifestyle. The hypocrisy stinks.

    I don’t for one minute believe that many people on twitter really care about this man / these men. Twitter is breaking down the barriers of the media and in turn the extent that the law can be applied is being challenged. Although we shouldn’t turn into mob rule we should perhaps be thinking more carefully about what the law should and shouldn’t cover and the extent of its power within a global market. As it stands the law and the footballer just seem like Canute.

    The only people that have won from this case is the lawyers. If it wasn’t for the super injunction the story would already be todays fish wrapper.

  2. Art Li says:

    Thanks for that Simon. I wasn’t comparing the specific actions taken by ukuncut and tweeters, simply the act of breaking the law. There will always be a conflict between individual privacy (however immoral as judged by others) & freedom of speech, and this case illustrates fully the problem. Re the legal advice given to the footballer, as you know lawyers can only advise, Messrs Schillings aren’t stupid and they have a reputation to protect, I doubt very much they have advised their client to take a hopeless course of action. Besides, as things stand, US First Amendment or not, there is no guarantee Twitter will NOT comply with the court order.

  3. SimonG_1 says:

    Thanks for the reply. As you can tell I find the law baffling. I hope common sense prevails.

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