Twitter outings undermine "super injunctions"

Mon May 9, 2011 7:48am EDT
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By Georgina Prodhan

LONDON (Reuters) - Twitter revelations of alleged attempts by British celebrities to cover up sexual indiscretions show that "super injunctions" to gag the press are unsustainable, lawyers said Monday.

A Twitter user posted details Sunday of six instances of what the blogger said were injunctions obtained by television and sports stars to cover up affairs or prevent the publication of revealing photographs.

One of the celebrities named, socialite Jemima Khan, used her own Twitter feed to deny an allegation that she had obtained a super injunction to prevent intimate pictures of her and TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson from being published.

"OMG - Rumour that I have a super injunction preventing publication of "intimate" photos of me and Jeremy Clarkson. NOT TRUE!" she tweeted.

Super injunctions prevent the media from reporting not only details of a story but even the existence of the injunction.

They have their legal basis in the UK's 1998 Human Rights Act but have given rise to concerns of a creeping privacy law made by the courts and favoring the famous and wealthy.

"It's rich man's justice," said media lawyer Mark Stephens, a partner at London-based law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, noting that not a single woman was known to have obtained such an injunction.

Stephens estimated that about 200 super injunctions had been issued in the past three to four years. Their cost of more than 100,000 pounds ($164,000) each puts them out of most people's reach.   Continued...

<p>Britain's Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistani politician Imran Khan, leaves City of Westminster Magistrates Court in central London December 14, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett</p>