Over here in the land of the European Convention on Human Rights, there’s been a very big fuss about things called super injunctions; as Google Trends will readily verify, before mid-2010 nobody had ever actually Googled the term, and before late 2009 no news articles had ever thought to mention them.
They are court orders that can be taken out (usually by the rich and famous) to stop news about them being reported in the media. They are “super” because the fact that the injunction has been taken out cannot even be reported nor can anyone involved be reported in the media.
That was, however, until people started Tweeting details about players with the pseudonyms CTB and TSE recently. Eventually an MP outed CTB (Ryan Giggs) yesterday in Parliament, making a total mockery of the whole thing. The player, Ryan Giggs, in case you weren’t aware, is the most decorated footballer in English history having played for Manchester United since 1990. He’s always been a very private player, one rarely hears his voice as he doesn’t often give interviews. However, he was so keen to have gossip about his affair kept quiet he has sued Twitter in an attempt to get the details of those Tweeters who dared to out him.
I’m personally really unsure what I think about all of this. As a Christian naturally I don’t think adultery is a particularly good thing, but then acutely aware of my own sin, it’s not for me to judge. Is it really for me, or anyone apart from those involved, to know? Giggs has always kept himself private, so why shouldn’t that carry on? His rather messy attempt to sue Twitter seems ill-advised and doesn’t incline me towards the guy (as does his Man Utd affiliation), but he should still be allowed to confront the issues in his life in his own way rather than being forced; he isn’t a Tiger Woods who carefully crafted a particular “family man” image over the years. On the other hand, he chose to have an affair with a very public figure.
Naturally the British press, and in particular the tabloids, are up in arms about all of this. Why should freedom of speech be constrained at the bequest of the rich? What about our right to know (even though I’m not sure we do have one here!)? I’m sure they are fighting on principle rather than solely based on this case alone, but I’m always unsure about our ever invasive press here in the UK for the reasons outlined here – Ryan Giggs is a footballer first and foremost and always has been. If we want to set him up as something else (role model) that he didn’t ever set himself out to be, then its our problem; we certainly don’t then have the right to all the juicy gossip about him because we set him up on that pedestal.
What now for super injunctions? Will superstars continue to take them out? A Google search for super injunction shows that it isn’t just footballer either – but have they been killed by this episode? Even if a superstar gets one, someone could happily Tweet from an internet cafe or abroad or wherever on a made up account, and it’s out in the open. I doubt they’re particularly cheap either with legal fees being what they are.