Monday, May 23, 2011

Giles Coren just cannot keep his mouth shut

Kabooooosh! Another alarming headline!

The media has its teeth around the gagging order debacle and is running away faster than we can keep up. (link to Giles Coren's now deleted tweets)

But that was the purpose of this blog when we launched 4 weeks ago plus 700,000 odd hits later. We wanted to agitate and stimulate and feel proud to have been part of forcing privacy decisions away from the Courts and back to Parliament.

When the news is pumped out so fast, as has been in the last day or so, the detail can often get lost.

So let us look at the injunction judgment from last Friday (read it here because nobody else is), News Group forced MNB to reveal himself as Sir Frederick Goodwin. However, Goodwin has refused to alter the injunction any further. Despite the highly paid QC's representing News Group, they were unable to force out the lady he had an affair with, although Goodwin did say it was a work colleague on the grounds of Public Interest.

In the meantime, the real world (the internet) had outed her a long time ago and just typing Fred Goodwin into Google tells you who it is. For those too lazy to type, here is a screen shot.

Back to the injunction.

The Telegraph didn't come out too well. It's recent reporting was full of errors and the Court was obviously delighted at pointing this out. But then what do you expect when the only people who know what is going on are a few Judges?

The bit that amused us though was this:

"All media organisations are aware that they (or any member of the public) served with or notified of the order are always free to apply to the court to have any injunction varied or discharged where the order restrains any publication or interferes with the right of freedom of expression. This is a right which media organisations exercise only very rarely."

Now I get the feeling the Courts are going to start saying "all members of the public are aware of all the injunctions because they are published on the internet and so all members of the public are party to the gagging order".

This means anyone who saw the photograph of a footballer who looked like Ryan Giggs at the weekend, or has read about Gareth Barry's infidelities and Giles Coren's Tweets or searched on Twitter about Didier Drogba or Kevin Nolan or the unrelated Stephen Nolan is party to information so confidential that the UK's security is in danger (has the MoD banned USD sticks yet?), its national well being under attack from an outbreak of paranoia and the lives of thousands are being put at risk with the upshot all the media will close down, all pubs burned, smartphone users jailed and all passports will be revoked in the name of protecting a few wealthy celebrities. That is our opinion but this is what the Judge said:

"Although many of those who obtain injunctions and anonymised orders to restrain the publication of private or confidential information are rich and famous, many others are not, and some are amongst the most vulnerable children: see the judgment of Baker J in W v M & Ors [2011] EWHC 1197 (COP) (12 May 2011) at para [44], and my judgment in TSE and ELP v NGN Ltd [2011] EWHC 1308 (QB)."

So there you go. It is important the vulnerable are protected but it seems these injunctions are being abused by the rich and famous to protect themselves from bad behaviour too.

The Court continued and said the lifting of the injunction was not in the public interest and the FSA which regulates banks was not impacted in not knowing about it. The FSA needs to understand what banks do to justify the huge bonuses paid to their people. That is the mantra we understand.

Uh? The FSA would have had no idea, like the rest of us, of this injunction and if they had found the injunction on the internet it is unlikely they would have said:

"MNB, isn't that Goodwin, CEO of RBS? His profession isn't noted so it cannot be him. Nothing to worry about then."

Please read the detail. It is quite alarming. The Courts are running this country. Check out "Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition" on wikipedia.

It is not a nice place to be.


  1. There is a real public interest here. If Sir Fred had an affair with a fellow employee, we need to know whether it impacted on his stewardship of RBS, whether the proper reporting procedures were followed (otherwise is it not gross misbehaviour) and whether that fellow employee was given promotion over and above their ability.
    I am surprised nobody is asking this

  2. "The Courts are running this country."
    Oh, get real. You've revealed this blog for what it actually is - the bollocks mouthpiece of a Fleet Street shill.

    "We wanted to agitate and stimulate and feel proud to have been part of forcing privacy decisions away from the courts and back to Parliament."

    ... and Parliament has been somewhat quick to push those decisions back towards the courts where they belong. This is not something to be decided by unelected whips, unelected ministers, and unelected Whitehall clerks. This is not something which can be decided for all people in all cases. Parliament would have to define privacy and the public interest (among others), and would doubtless leave loopholes where some suffer, and corner cases where people are criminalised. This is absolutely a matter which needs to be decided on an individual cases, which is something the courts do very well and Parliament does very badly.

    The lives of thousands are not being put at risk, unless those thousands were stupid enough to wilfully put themselves in contempt of court. Nobody is going to be burning down any pubs (the occasional insurance job aside). The only people who are going to jail are the people who have actually broken the law and reported on that which it is (for very good reason) illegal to report.

    The simple fact of the matter is that only a few of the injuncted matters are remotely a matter of public interest. Who Sir TheShred was banging is most certainly not one of them. There are plenty of distractions that might have caused him to lose sight of the problems his bank was having. Why is nobody asking whether he was suffering from depressing in the run-up to the crisis? Why is nobody asking whether flooding in his second home might have contributed to him taking his eye off the ball? If you take this out of the equation, then it's just another "Man shags woman" story.

  3. The injunctions, as I understand it, apply to newspaper publishers, and the judges are ignoring the wider publicity of the material as a reason why the injunctions should be lifted. Effectively they are turning a blind eye to Twitter and the blogosphere. This isn't as daft as it may seem, as they will have their collective eye upon the next injunction and shutting that particular stable door before the horse has bolted. Fair enough, if injunctions are restored. And, after all, those tweeting and blogging the 'secret material' may have heard the name 'down the pub' and it is a matter of conjecture whether these rumours originated in the newsroom (injuncted) or in the locker room the day after coitus (presumably not injuncted). Chances of tracing this back to source: nil...unless you're a tweeting journalist employed by an injuncted newspaper. Now, can the injuncted newspapers report on the wider reporting of this phenomenon, as a matter of public interest? Is it time to test this? The Goodwin thing appears open and shut....if he appeared to have breached the company's code of conduct, as the bank's most senior executive, then there is a public interest. It's just that this hasn't been dangled before the courts as a 'fact'. Admittedly, it's debatable as to whether the identity of the 'lady' executive should be publicised, but anyone with half a brain can guess and gossip.

  4. "The injunctions, as I understand it, apply to newspaper publishers, and the judges are ignoring the wider publicity of the material as a reason why the injunctions should be lifted."
    No. The Spycatcher doctrine holds that an injunction barring publication applies to everyone, not just the parties - and it holds thus because it makes no sense to restrict it to the named parties.

  5. Can someone tell us who the hell fleetstreetfox is and is that silhouette really hers? Unless she's got an injunction can someone out her and tell us anything we might like to know about her. Just so that everything's fair, you know.

  6. Agitate? Stimulate? Sounds like bullshit.

  7. Nah, they've been agitating and stimulating the public in the same way that these footballers have been agitating and stimulating their mistresses, if you know what I'm saying.