Whose responsibility?

MP John Hemming has named the footballer who has been the subject of a super-injunction.  His name has been doing the rounds for some time.  The issue of super-injunctions (issue of principle, impact of new media, courts v. media) has been infinitely more interesting – and a matter of public interest – than the substance of the story (footballer has affair), which may be something of interest to the public but not necessarily a matter of public interest. 

However, prior to what was said in the Commons, Mr Justice Eady had refused to lift the injunction.  BBC News Online reported:

‘In court, Mr Justice Eady rejected a fresh application by Sun publisher News Group Newspapers to discharge the privacy injunction.

The judge said: “The court’s duty remains to try and protect the claimant, and particularly his family, from intrusion and harassment so long as it can.”‘

I would have thought that the principal duty in this respect lay with the claimant.  If he wishes to protect his family, he needed to think about the consequences of his actions.  It is not necessarily the job of the courts to save him from his own misdeeds. 

I would also have thought that avoiding a super injuction, and letting the story run, would have been a 24-hour wonder.  As it is, it has been a long-running saga with the identity of the footballer doing the rounds for weeks…

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to Whose responsibility?

  1. Dave H says:

    While he will undoubtedly come in for criticism, I think John Hemming acted in the public interest. Now perhaps the story will sink back to where it should have been all along. As you say, a 24hr event to be superseded by more important happenings.

    On a more general note, Hemming should be credited for his general fight against secrecy, especially in the Family Court, where information appears to be kept under wraps more for the benefit of officials than the families involved.

  2. tory boy says:

    Lord Norton, could you please send me the link, on the report of retirement package in the House of Lords?

  3. ladytizzy says:

    It’s a rum world when wealthy Brits throw their money in defence of an Australian who has published private memos between state representatives…you get the gist.

  4. Dave Thawley says:

    Good evening Lord Norton,

    I agree with what you say here. At the end of the day, however undemocratic our current political system is ,it alone should be responsible for creating law. In stead the Judiciary seems to have taken it upon itself attempt to push through a marked change in the way of doing things which is outside of their remit and is not right at all. I think John Hemming was correct in what he did. His job is to protect his constituents and with Ryan Giggs attempting to sue people from Twitter he did just that. It was lovely the way Giggs also protected himself at the expense of Imogen (apparently anyway naming her in the super injunction to protect himself). I also believe more cynically that the super injunction is as much based on preventing damage to the Giggs brand name (and therefore financially base) as much as protecting his wife and kids. As you said he would have kept his pants zipped up if he cared that much about them. Since people brought into the Giggs brand name in good faith the fact that part of it is just fiction is definitely of public interest. Just my opinion again but the Judges involved seem to have been duped into protecting this fiction at the expense of other people (money talks apparently). I’m very happy with the Honorable John since he has done a great public service with his actions. I hope if the need arises he will do the same in the future.

  5. John Dowdle says:

    I disagree with your comments and the other comments above.
    As a matter of principle, it is in the hands of government and Parliament to change the laws on pricacy if they actually want to. It is not the role of a rogue MP to undermine this important right that Members of Parliament possess.
    I think I am right in saying that Winston Churchill used parliamentary privilege to warn the House, Government and British people about the increasing level of armaments and military personnel in Germany between the two world wars.
    History must conclude that Churchill was right to alert our country to the dangers of Nazi military buildup. By comparison, Hemming’s abuse of parliamentary privilege is just an abuse of this right and represents mere attention-seeking on his part.
    This right repesents a form of power and power should always be used sparingly or it could become fatally undermined. Hemming’s lack of control may end up undermining the historic right of parliamentary privilege, and we will all be the losers for this.
    Uninformed comment is also problematical. There have been a number of these super-injunction cases before the Courts recently. In a number of them, apparent blackmail attempts have been made against the individuals involved by other “kiss-and-tell” individuals. The Courts have acted to stop such attempts at blackmail.
    Can any of you differentiate between such cases as to when attempted blackmail is involved? I cannot – are you all so sure you can?

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