Super injunctions: Jeremy Clarkson named on Twitter

And quickly denied, of course.

The identities of public figures who obtained draconian gagging orders to hide details of their extra-marital affairs and private lives was disclosed on Twitter.

A minute later she added: “I have no super injunction and I had dinner with Jeremy and his wife last night. Twitter, Stop!”

It claimed Miss Khan had taken out a super-injunction to prevent intimate pictures of her and Clarkson emerging. But Miss Khan vehemently denied that either the pictures or any injunction existed.

“OMG- Rumour that I have a super injunction preventing publication of “intimate” photos of me and Jeremy Clarkson. NOT TRUE!,” she Tweeted last night.

The weirdness of this law about superinjunctions is that while anyone can go read the Twitter page that makes the revelations, my reporting what the other ones are would almost certainly get me into big trouble.

For we\’re entirely free to spread rumours about who might, but in fact does not, have such super injunctions. We\’re just not allowed to tell the truth about who has them and why.

Which is why no one is mentioning the other super injunctions mentioned in the tweets. Or if they do mention them, only in code.

26 comments on “Super injunctions: Jeremy Clarkson named on Twitter

  1. How are these injunctions binding on those who have not been served with them?

    Especially as, to the extent they are made public at all, they don’t tell you what you aren’t allowed to tell people.

  2. To answer my own question, it seems that if you know there is an injunction you can’t disclose that fact. However, if you don’t know there is an injunction (and I don’t know about any of them) there is no reason you can’t name the ageing Welsh footballer with a hugely succesful club from a big city in north west England or the Z-list TV non-celebrity he is/was banging. Also if you don’t know there is an injunction, there is nothing to stop you speculating quite candidly about the possibility of there being one, while if you know there is an injunction you must stubbornly refuse to discuss it. And there is nothing to stop you doing this in such a manner that everyone can see you making the great efforts not to discuss it that the courts demand of you. Repeatedly.

    So I expect this type of injunction will eventually disappear up its own posterior because it is effectively unenforceable.

  3. Ross @1 and the Daily Mail, new keyboard please.

    JamesV, such injunctions are legally binding whether you are aware of them or not. If you published something that breached such an injunction (whether or not you are aware of the injunction) and the lawyers became aware of it, presumably they would seek to enforce the injunction (first by demanding you take steps to reverse the publication of the offending material), else you risk being found guilty of contempt of court.

  4. Super injunctions allow the state to take peoples kid’s off them for trivial reasons and then try to jail the parents if they ask their MP for help, as in the case in Doncaster now busted by the MP. The celeb crap is just window dressing.

  5. @ukliberty,

    all _laws_ are legally binding whether or not you are aware of them – hence not knowing that something is a crime is not an accepted defence. This would also be the case with a court order (such as an injunction) backed up by a law allowing it to be enforced. The difference with this type of court order is that – unlike laws – they are not in the public domain (because publishing them – other than to distribute to the newspapers and bloggers initially subject to the injunction would defeat the object of the injunction) so it would be most unreasonable to find someone who was not explicitly made aware of the order to be in breach of it. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but it would be about as likely as being sucessfully prosecuted for breaking a secret law.

    Sure, if you start publishing the details the injunctor wishes to keep private you might be contacted by his lawyers with a request to remove, and be informed of the injunction, so from that point onwards any further publication could put you in contempt. In practice, now that some cats are out of the bag, it is obviously proving hard for the lawyers to chase down and squish all 20,000 mentions on the internet.

    A further point – UK court orders are only enforceable where the British courts have jurisdiction, so such an order could not be easily enforced against, to pick a random example, a blog based in Portugal. The libel risk remains, but how likely is someone to sue you for publishing a truth they want minimal publicity for?

    So I don’t see how you can be held in contempt of court if the court has not yet told you what it wants (or rather doesn’t want) you to do. So you cannot commit a crime by revealing the information protected by an injunction – including the existence or otherwise of an injunction if covered, until you know that there is an injunction. You are therefore not committing a crime if you say “X did Y to Z then took out a superinjunction about it”, as long as you do not know the statement to be true. If questioned you can always claim to have been indulging in some fantastic lying – which is not a crime. The reason for the coded language in all the revelations is to provide a defence to the potential allegation that you had been served with the injunction and thus were knowingly in breach of it, but I think this is overly cautious.

    Paradoxically, once you know of the injunction, you cannot tell the truth without breaking the law, but you can tell a lie without breaking the law.

    IANAL.

  6. To be honest I’ve not heard of several of the people mentioned…I am re-posting the details though.

    As yet, we don’t know the details about the MPs who have taken out superinjunctions…I’m scouring the internet to try and get the details though.

  7. JamesV,

    all _laws_ are legally binding whether or not you are aware of them – hence not knowing that something is a crime is not an accepted defence.

    I’m not sure it’s so absolute; regardless, ignorance can be used in mitigation, but you must of course persuade the court.

    … it would be most unreasonable to find someone who was not explicitly made aware of the order to be in breach of it. …

    … I don’t see how you can be held in contempt of court if the court has not yet told you what it wants (or rather doesn’t want) you to do.

    You won’t be.

  8. So you can say what you like, including things some people do not want you to say, until some lawyer asks you, personally, to refrain because there is a court order (effective in your jurisdiction) banning you from saying it.

  9. ‘ere, that Jeremy Clarkson: ‘e’d make a wonderful pantomime dame, wouldn’t ‘e?

  10. John B:

    “repeatedly lying to the authorities that your partner raped your child” is not, in fact, trivial.”

    Agreed 100 %.

    However, that does not seem to be the grounds on which the child has been taken from her. We don’t know because the lawdogs have slung an injunction over the entire issue. An injunction such that, it seems, the bluebottles were willing to arrest the woman for so much as asking her MP for help (obv she would have to tell him why she wanted help). No matter what she has done or not done, no system should be able to put such an injunction on ANYONE, for any reason.
    I am second to none in my hatred for false accusers and I note that the secret family courts usually piss mostly on men but it is high time the secrets came to an end and never mind bogus crocodile tears and never mind “the welfare of the children”.
    The celeb bullshit is still just a smokescreen.

  11. Mr Ecks, if it’s the case I think it is, the injunction did not prohibit her from privately asking her own MP for help. It did in effect prohibit her from talking about her case at a public meeting where MPs and members of the public were present.

  12. “It did in effect prohibit her from talking about her case at a public meeting where MPs and members of the public were present”

    As i understand it, this was not just about the woman: the court attempted to prevent the MP from talking about it in Parliament – it sought to undermine Parliamentary privilege in a very direct manner.

  13. the court attempted to prevent the MP from talking about it in Parliament – it sought to undermine Parliamentary privilege in a very direct manner

    I don’t think that’s true – the House itself says that MPs aren’t allowed to talk about cases that are <i<sub judice.

    HeadofLegal has more.

  14. The problem with these super injunctions is that no-one outside of the courtroom knows they exist so It way be easy to break one by accident. the other nonsense is that when people do get wind of them they speculate and often smear innocent individuals as we have seen. They are also nonsense as they don’t apply to the whole world forever no matter what some old guy in a horse hair wig says. They also infringe on freedo of speech. Tell the truth about someone and you can go to jail. That’s not right.

  15. Chalcedon,

    They also infringe on freedo of speech. Tell the truth about someone and you can go to jail. That’s not right.

    This isn’t just about freedom of speech, this is about competing rights: my right to privacy vs. your freedom of speech + the public interest (if any).

    (let’s put aside, for now, the newspapers’ invasions of privacy).

  16. Mr Ecks: see this piece. Main points from the court finding that took away the mother’s access rights:

    1. [The child] has not been sexually abused by the father, or at all.

    2. The allegations of sexual abuse were made first by the mother, not by [the child], they were false and the mother knew them to be false.

    3. As a result of inappropriate pressure and prompting, [the child] came to make and believe the allegations.

    4. Once [the child] adopted the allegations, the mother may have deluded herself that they were true.

    5. [The child] suffered actual and significant emotional harm.

  17. The problem with these super injunctions is that no-one outside of the courtroom knows they exist so It way be easy to break one by accident.

    The consensus among lawyers seems to be that this isn’t actually a problem: common law and human rights law would both prevent the prosecution of someone who broke one by accident. The point is to ensure that the editors of the NOTW and the Sun know they exist, not to ensure that Bob Smith knows they exist.

  18. Of course no-one is going to be punished for breaking one by accident (Christ, I hope not). But if you publish information that happens to be the subject of an injunction you may be contacted by the lawyers to take it down. And if you don’t take it down despite being made aware of the injunction you risk contempt of court. In itself that seems fair enough.

    But there was one disturbing thing related to that in this week’s Private Eye’s story (p.8 issue 1288) about Andrew Marr’s injunction – they were informed by lawyers claiming to work for Marr that there was an injunction “restraining the publication of private information concerning our client” but there was no detail about the information and the Eye was initially not allowed to see the injunction (or allowed to report the existence of the injunction)! Now that’s just silly.

  19. John B:

    Dont care.

    Even if the Mother may be a wrong ‘un–the issue is the injunction. If “justice” is being served by the courts then let it be in public not under a cloak. Please don’t write back to say it is for the child’s sake–that is usually a lie and I don’t care even if it isn’t. Other people deserve fair treatment not just kids.
    This woman may be guilty as many men have been or she maybe being rousted (by a corrupt and secretive octopus of Social Services hacks and lawdogs) unjustly as many men have been. The best defence against injustice is the open flow of information.

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