Waging War On The Super Injunction

by Laura Berry

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Super Injunction, journalism and social media

Marr’s Reputation Tarnished by Gagging Order Revelation

Super injunctions have existed for several years now, but all of a sudden they have exploded into our newspapers and our social media news feeds raising issues over how freedom of speech and privacy rights are able to exist side by side.

Super injunctions are injunctions obtained in a secret convening of the court which states the names, parties involved in as well as the terms of the injunction shall remain secret, except between the parties, the judge and counsel. They are used in a range of situations, from celebrity extra marital affairs to corporate cock ups and some of the most well known super injunctions are those obtained by political reporter Andrew Marr and notorious banker Fred Godwin.

The case of Andrew Marr in particular reveals the tension between journalists, who rely on freedom of speech to reveal matters of public interest and the parties involved in injunctions, who wish to exercise their human right of privacy. Marr has been accused of hypocrisy and he himself has admitted that he ‘did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists’

The power of traditional media is weakened at the hands of the super injunction leaving them powerless to name and shame and this is where social networks such as Twitter have come into their own and revealed their power and ability to shape and change the media.

If you go onto twitter and search for super injunctions, you will find hundreds of tweets relating to the subject and hundreds of speculative ideas about who the parties involved in the injunctions could be. Twitter has become the place to visit to get the latest super injunction updates rather than traditional press.

Social networking sites allow news and opinions to spread with immediacy and on a global scale and one tweet can escalate and make it to the other side of the globe in a matter of minutes. There is a lack of regulation on twitter and a greater sense of freedom of speech. People from all backgrounds are able to state their opinions without the same barrier to entry that journalists face.

The war against the super injunction is fast being waged through social media sites and this raise’s the important question of whether social networking should be subjected to the same injunctions that traditional media is? After all does the fact that we can speculate about injunction identities online, with no danger of consequences belittle the basis of the super injunction?

For me the whole idea of the super injunction seems absurd as it gives the rich and influential the power to control the media and control how they are portrayed. Those of us like Imogen Thomas (the female at the centre of the married footballer injunction) who do not have £50,000 are thrown to the media lions.

Granted what we do in our private lives should remain exactly that – private and I am not condoning the shameless celebrity kiss and tell stories that tarnish reputations and destroy families. What should however never be covered up are those corporate scandals that directly affect the well being of the public. Corporate personalities should not be able to hide their wrong doings and should be held accountable. Journalism is about bringing these public misdemeanours to the fore ground and with super injunctions becoming more and more popular the job of the journalist to highlight public wrong doings, becomes all the more difficult.

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