Monday, 23 May 2011


A video of the urgent question debate on the matter of injunctions/superinjunctions took place this afternoon in the Hoc and a video of proceedings can be seen here.

The first matter of interest is how did Ryan Giggs manage to secure a seat on the Government front bench next to Dominic Grieve, or is it just me that sees a likeness twixt Giggs and Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Media, Culture and Sport - but I digress........

Not being one with any legal training/knowledge, but merely as an interested onlooker the following questions/observations come to mind on a subject which involves what is the opening of yet another Pandora's Box.

Some MPs questioned whether a new privacy law was required and therein lies yet another problem - what is privacy, to whom should any such law apply - and to what degree -  and who should decide the parameters?

Any such change to the existing law would need to strike a balance - and one then comes back to the question posed above, namely who will decide that balance?

John Whittingdale raised the point that the law is being made an ass by 'social media' - which begs the question, is his answer a form of censorship? That question is posed as Twitter and some blog hosts are based outside the jurisdiction of the English courts, so how would MPs enforce such a law other than by denying the use of such social media sites- which must then involve a degree of censorship.

If the basic right to freedom of speech is paramount in a free society then surely it cannot be curtailed under any circumstances?

The matter of Giggs being outed in Scotland was raised by one MP and Grieve admitted that English courts could not do a damn thing about that as Scotland was not answerable to the rulings of English courts. Therefore does it not follow that if the government cannot alter what is published in Scotland, it must follow they cannot do anything about what is published on printed matter that is produced using a publishing outlet that is outside English jurisdiction?

If the press has a right to report on the proceedings of parliament, how can they be held to be breaking an injunction if the information contained within that injunction is then released within the confines of the HoC?

Bearing in mind that MPs are supposed to reflect the views of their constituents, how can they support a law that does not have what is perceived to be public support? Oh, wait, EU membership........?

Returning to the subject of balance, one has to ask which is the more important - the privacy of a husband who attempts to ban the publication of his infidelity, presumably to hide the fact from his wife; or freedom for all to see the draconian restrictions imposed by social workers of local authorities on parents whose children may well have been taken into care in order to meet targets?

The point that must also be considered is that if all political power is held by the people and delegated -and therefore 'on loan' - to their elected representatives, should it not be the people's decision on whether a new privacy law is required and the content of same?

Yet another point for consideration is that by being secretive with matters that do affect us - and I return to the accusations made many times on this blog about the political class not practising honesty with the electorate on matters of polical importance - is it any wonder that the public become fixated on what amounts to 'tittle-tattle'?

What we have here is another case of law being promulgated by parliament, the ramifications of which have not been thought through - the result of which means that those who consider themselves a 'class apart' and 'superior' have managed to create for themselves yet another 'fine mess'.

Benedict Brogan, in common with the majority of Daily Telegraph 'journalists' (Brooker,Delingpole and West being noticeable exceptions) commits the classic example of putting fingers to keyboard without first engaging brain. He writes - and I use the word "writes" in the loosest possible way - that with the events in parliament being transmitted by the BBC, us mere mortals have a duty to decide whether any stated fact is fact or fiction. He seems to forget that the BBC is a news outlet and as such we mere mortals are at perfect liberty to quote from such a source. Brogan also states:

"We have a history of mobs driving politics, of popular movements shifting official thinking." 

Just who the hell does this paragon of virtue think he is, writing such patronising rubbish? Mobs????!!! Popular movements shifting official thinking???!!! I have to return to the statement above, that if power rests with the people - and is lent to our elected representatives - then should not the people have the final decision on laws by which they should live? Brogan is a classic example of a so-called 'journalist', one dependent on not upsetting his paymasters - aka politicians - by supporting what amounts to 'democratised dictatorship'.

Finally, once again slightly digressing, should not those in the public eye think ahead prior to posing for publicity pictures:

Just a few initial thoughts to provoke debate..........................


john in cheshire said...

I think you are in line with my thinking. As a supplement, once someone becomes a public person, I'm afraid that they have (consciously or otherwise) consented to much more public scrutiny than the rest of us peons. As far as public servants (social workers - pauses to spit - for example) are concerned, they are paid to do public works for the public and therefore should always be required to do so in full view and be answerable, as individuals, for their actions.

A K Haart said...

Good post.

"Popular movements shifting official thinking."

As they absolutely should - it's called democracy.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

jic: thanks and agreed

AKH: Thanks for the praise (?) and yes, we are the rulers -most definitely!

English Pensioner said...

I don't give a damn about footballers or other "celebs". As far as I am concerned they can do as they like provided it is not illegal, but they should accept the consequences if found out.

What I am concerned about is that we could move towards the situation in France where those in power can do almost anything they like without a murmur in the press.
If someone expects me to trust him to help run the country, he must demonstrate this trust and as soon as I hear that he is untrustworthy in any of his private dealings, I would no longer be prepared to trust him in his public dealings.
If a man is prepared to ditch his wife breaking his marriage vows without any thought, how do I know that he is not equally prepared to break his oath given when appointed to high office?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

EP: With you all the way Bro!