Twitter Aflutter Over Super-Injunctions
The debate over super-injunctions has taken a new turn with a Twitter user listing celebrities who have allegedly taken out the gagging orders.
The account on the social media sitenamed six separate cases of actors, television presenters, a chef and a footballer, in an apparent effort to undermine the effectiveness of so-called super-injunctions. The posts rapidly garnered the user more than 20,000 followers.
The posts’ accuracy was called into question, however, when Jemima Khan, former girlfriend of Hugh Grant and one of the celebrities named, denied through her own Twitter account that she had taken out a super-injunction.
The posts come amid mounting debate over super-injunctions. At least 30 such orders, which prevent the identification of the person or business seeking the tough court order in addition to the substance, are thought to have been granted by the high court enabling the rich and famous to protect their private lives.
Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls — one of the UK’s most senior judges, is scheduled to publish imminently a report on the subject after David Cameron, prime minister, said he was “uneasy” over judges rather than parliament creating a de facto privacy law by granting the orders.
“There’s a battle between the courts and three entities: the internet, newspapers and politicians, all of which in their different ways could be said to be seeking to erode the effectiveness of such injunctions,” said Dan Tench, a media partner at Olswang, a law firm. “I don’t think posts on Twitter are likely to undermine privacy injunctions. In reality, there are numerous postings on social media sites and elsewhere on the internet, most of which are inaccurate.”
There was a difference between anonymous users and newspapers disclosing identities, he said.
The Twitter poster, who uses the name Billy Jones, could face prison or an unlimited fine for being in contempt of court — if he or she is tracked down — Mr. Tench said. Twitter wouldn’t have liability as an intermediary as long as it took measures to prevent the publication of illegal material as soon as it became aware of it, he said.
A call to Twitter was not immediately returned.