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Privacy injunction statistics published by Ministry of Justice as part of new pilot scheme

March 19th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal

On Thursday last week the Ministry of Justice published a new report of “experimental” statistics relating to the processing of privacy injunctions at the High Court or Court of Appeal. This follows a recommendation by the Master of the Rolls committee.

The statistics relate to injunctions dealt with in any civil proceedings in the High Court or Court of Appeal in London where the court considers an application for an injunction prohibiting the publication of private or confidential information, the continuation of such an injunction, or an appeal against the grant or refusal of such an injunction.

The report shows that from August to December last year there were four proceedings in the High Court which “considered an application for a new interim injunction”, three where the court “considered whether to continue or amend an interim injunction which had previously been granted” and two where the proceedings involved a consideration of “whether to issue a final, permanent injunction”.

The statistics do not cover injunctions arising from proceedings dealing with family issues, immigration or asylum issues, to proceedings which raise issues of national security, nor to most proceedings dealing with intellectual property and employment issues.

The four applications for new interim injunctions were all said to have been granted by the court.

At the Court of Appeal one further proceeding was also recorded involving “an appeal against a grant or refusal of an interim or final injunction”.

According to the International Forum for Responsible Media (Inforrm) blog, which has looked at the statistics in more detail here, “none of these cases appear to have involved threatened media publication” as “no media defendants were joined”.

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Brian Cathcart: Ten things I’ve learned about injunctions

June 6th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

I think (although this post may lead to me being quickly proved wrong) that I have been pretty careful and accurate in my reporting of various different injunction stories of late. This is largely thanks to my former colleague and media law blogger Judith Townend, whose exasperation with the media bandying around the term “superinjunction” I have seen first hand.

Not everybody has been cautious, and the term superinjunction seems to have been applied left, right and centre to celebrity injunctions. The fact that Ryan Giggs never obtained a superinjunction, and that there have only been two new superinjunctions in the past year — one lasting seven days and the other overturned on appeal – are two of ten lessons taken away from the whole affair by Kingston University journalism lecturer Brian Cathcart, who writes today on Index on Censorship.

The other eight include these gems:

There appear to be 75,000 British Twitter users who are ready, with the right tabloid encouragement, to participate in the “naming and shaming” (or pillorying) of adulterers.

When it suits them, the tabloids also blithely set aside their usual view that online social networking is an evil invention that causes crime, suicide, binge drinking, obesity, terrorism and cancer.

See his full list on Index on Censorship at this link.

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Independent: Poll finds judges ‘too ready’ to gag newspapers

June 1st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

The findings of a poll run by the Independent show  the majority of respondents believe “judges have been too ready to issue gagging orders” which enable the rich and famous to protect their privacy, the paper reports.

People appear to have little sympathy with those high-profile film, television and sports stars who have resorted to the courts to stop embarrassing details of their private lives reaching the public domain, according to the ComRes survey.

According to the Independent, which reported last week that at least 333 gagging orders have been granted in the last five years, 70 per cent of voters in the poll agreed that courts had been “too willing” to grant injunctions.

A total of 65 per cent believed that “celebrities and sports stars owe their lifestyle to their public profile so they should not complain about intrusion into their private lives”.

Although voters disapprove of the efforts that well-known figures make to prevent damaging headlines, they also believe by a narrower majority that privacy rules have failed to keep pace with the rapid growth of the internet.

This comes as a new account appears on Twitter publishing allegations of identities said to be being protected by injunctions. Following a previous case of a Twitter account publishing accusations against celebrities of taking out injunctions, as well as the wide Tweeting of individual identities said to be subject to privacy injunctions, the site reportedly confirmed it would hand over details about users if legally obliged to do so.

According to reports, just this weekend, in an entirely separate case not related to injunctions, a local council was allegedly successful in making Twitter hand over user details for a court case.

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Journalisted Weekly: Injunctions, NHS & FIFA

Journalisted is an independent, not-for-profit website built to make it easier for you, the public, to find out more about journalists and what they write about.

It is run by the Media Standards Trust, a registered charity set up to foster high standards in news on behalf of the public, and funded by donations from charitable foundations.

Each week Journalisted produces a summary of the most covered news stories, most active journalists and those topics falling off the news agenda, using its database of UK journalists and news sources.

for the week ending Sunday 15 May

  • Privacy and NHS reform dominated political debate
  • Alleged scandal over FIFA World Cup bid held front and back pages
  • A Japan nuclear plant shut down and religious violence in Cairo, covered little

Covered lots

  • Anonymous claims circulated on Twitter named celebrities who had allegedly taken out superinjunctions, prompting heated debate about UK privacy law, 141 articles
  • The NHS reforms provoke more debate ahead of Cameron’s speech, with Clegg vowing to stand up to Tory plans, 127 articles
  • Former FA chairman Lord Triesman accused FIFA executives of bribery in early stages of the 2018 world cup bid, sparking fresh outcries of a scandal, 96 articles

Covered little

Political ups and downs (top ten by number of articles)

Celebrity vs serious

Arab spring

Who wrote a lot about…’privacy’

Frances Gibb – 9 articles (The Times), Tim Bradshaw – 6 articles (Financial Times), Josh Halliday – 6 articles (The Guardian), Dan Sabbagh – 6 articles (The Guardian), Steven Swinford – 6 articles (Telegraph), Roy Greenslade – 5 articles (The Guardian)

Long form journalism

More from the Media Standards Trust

Visit the Media Standards Trust’s new site Churnalism.com – a public service for distinguishing journalism from churnalism

Churnalism.com ‘explore’ page is available for browsing press release sources alongside news outlets

The Media Standards Trust’s unofficial database of PCC complaints is available for browsing at www.complaints.pccwatch.co.uk

For the latest instalment of Tobias Grubbe, journalisted’s 18th century jobbing journalist, go to journalisted.com/tobias-grubbe

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Telegraph: Lawyers apply for access to Sun journalists’ emails and texts

May 17th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal, Newspapers

Lawyers acting for a footballer at the centre of a superinjunction have applied for an order to gain access to emails and text messages sent by former editor of the Sun Kelvin Mackenzie and the paper’s employees, the Telegraph reports.

This follows comments made by Mackenzie on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in relation to superinjunctions in general, when he said that when he gets texts asking who the people are – “I always reply who it is”, he said.

All the time I get flooded by readers emails every week asking for the name, and sometimes I give it and sometimes I don’t.

At the time he said he responds “despite the fact I’ve been warned by various judges and lawyers that I face the prospect of contempt of court and the prospect of going to jail”.

In the Telegraph’s report Richard Spearman QC, for News Group, is quoted as saying that the application “was disproportionate”.

“It is a very major incursion into (Sun employees’) rights and News Group as a media organisation,” said Mr Spearman. “It is wholly unprecedented to ask for an order in this way, on the basis of such flimsy evidence and to such a large extent.”

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Superinjuctions and celebrity privacy case numbers revealed

May 16th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

The Daily Star Sunday yesterday published an A to Z list of 50 superinjunctions and “anonymous injunctions”, including one which allegedly relates to someone who has died.

Publication of the list follows a week of much debate after a Twitter account featured a string of allegations against public figures accused of having taken out superinjunctions, some of which have since been publicly denied.

This weekend the Daily Star Sunday reported there are currently 12 superinjunctions in existance, of which no details can be reported. The paper then lists the remaining “anonymous injunctions”.

This came a day after the Mail reported that between 30 and 40 celebrities currently have legal protection in place. On Friday the Telegraph revealed the courts had issued 80 gagging orders in the last six years.

The International Forum for Responsible Media reported it hopes to provide its own list from public sources, shortly.

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‘Consider the risks’ warning over super injunction Tweets

May 10th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

Many of you are likely to have heard by now about the Twitter account which appeared on Sunday featuring a series of allegations about public figures taking out super injunctions. The allegations, which received widespread coverage in the press, have since been denied by some of the individuals who were named, again using Twitter.

Since then there has been much debate about what this means for the future of this type of court order in an online world.

Yesterday on the International Forum for Responsible Media blog, Judith Townend collected together a number of opinions on the legal implications. One media lawyer, said to be a specialist in privacy law, told Townend that both social media users and mainstream media organisations should consider the risks.

But according to Danvers Baillieu, a senior associate and social media specialist lawyer at Pinsent Masons quoted in this article by the Telegraph, when it actually comes to the likelihood of someone taking action, “pragmatism prevails”.

…already thousands of people have either tweeted or re-tweeted protected information in the last few weeks alone. He said there was “no way” the authorities have an appetite to take action against swathes of Twitter users.

Similarly in such situations Twitter, for example, could say it is a US-based company and therefore not subject to European laws, the article adds.

It can also argue that its users are responsible for their own tweets and not the company. Furthermore, Baillieu said that Twitter can also defend itself on the basis of freedom of speech, under the First Amendment of the US constitution.

But while the legal issues remain cloudy, as Jon Slattery usefully illustrates in this blog post today, much of the national press continue to show the clearness of their feeling on the issue, claiming recent actions have “humiliated” the courts and resulted in a “legal crisis”.

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Jon Slattery: Government urged to set aside time for gagging law debate

May 5th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

An MP urged the government to set aside time for a Commons debate on gagging orders today, suggesting there are rumours circulating that another member of Parliament has taken out a super-injunction to prevent discussion of their activities, Jon Slattery reports in this blog post.

The allegation was made in the Commons as MPs discussed future Parliamentary business – including whether to debate judge-made privacy laws and gagging orders.

Conservative MP for Hendon, Matthew Offord reportedly said:

“Is the Leader of the House aware of the anomaly this creates if, as has been rumoured, a member of this place seeks a super-injunction to prevent discussion of their activities?”

Leader of the House Sir George Young was said to reply that it was “a very important issue about how we balance on the one hand an individual’s right to privacy and, on the other hand, the freedom of expression and transparency”.

He said the government would wait for the report from Lord Neuberger’s special committee on the issue, before deciding the next step.

“It may then be appropriate for the House to have a debate on this important issue,” he added.

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BBC: Take That star Howard Donald’s superinjunction lifted

November 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

A superinjunction preventing news organisations from naming Take That singer Howard Donald has been lifted, according to reports. The injunction had been granted earlier this year by Mr Justice Eady, but was lifted today by the court of appeal.

The lifting of the superinjunction means that the media can now report the claimant, Donald, in the case.

An order banning former girlfriend Adakini Ntuli from selling her story is still in place.

Read the BBC’s report here…

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