Tuesday, February 01, 2011

About THAT multiple-cheat sports star's injunction

At the rate we are discovering about these injunctions this year, your Reaper is going to have to keep a copy of this text on stand-by, ready to publish the next one. It appears that yet another sports star has been caught being a naughty boy - again! Who the sports star is though, we're not allowed to know. News Group Newspapers - publishers of The Sun and the News of the World - have previously published a story claiming that JIH (as the player can only currently be known) had sex with a woman known as YY. JIH has apparently been in an "apparently long-term and conventional relationship", in the words heard in the court. A woman known as ZZ has since been in touch with The Sun and they planned to publish her story.

JIH does not want this coming out, so he's taken News Group Newspapers to court. An injunction was initially obtained allowing either The Sun or the News or the World to name the sportsman in question, but not to reveal the allegations made against him. News Group appealed against the verdict, but they've lost. However, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger and two other Appeal Court judges effectively reversed the order. The allegation of an affair can be revealed, but the name of the sportsman can't.

Here's the reports from The Sun, Evening Standard and the Daily Mail. The Sun also provide no less than ten different examples from recent years of other sportspersons who have obtained injunctions to prevent us finding out stuff about them. And now for the obligatory appearance from the revamped, re-named Teh Injunction Cat...

Cue exactly the same game that ALWAYS takes place at times like these. All that's going to happen now is that people will descend on the internet to try and find out what the name is, and that more people will be interested in it than otherwise. Had The Sun simply been allowed to run this story and be done with it, it would probably have been forgotten about within days. Yet again, I find myself asking - what is the point of these kinds of self-defeating bloody injunctions and gagging orders?

The celebrities don't benefit from them, as there is the constant risk that the name will get out on the internet. It doesn't benefit the courts, as it makes them look like they're introducing privacy laws by the back door which are only accessible to the rich. It doesn't benefit the media, who are stifled from getting the truth in a number of other cases - though that possibly doesn't apply much here. The only people it benefits, as Mark Stephens points out in The Sun's report, is £700 per hour lawyers. And £700 per lawyers who give out crap advice at that.

As ever, your Reaper welcomes debate in the comments section, but no speculation about who the sportsman in question is here, please. I hate having to do this, but I'm very aware of the tough libel laws in this country.