A Liberal Democrat MP yesterday used Parliamentary privilege to name a woman he said a council tried to jail for speaking in Westminster.
John Hemming, who previously used privilege to name former Royal Bank of Scotland Sir Fred Goodwin as the subject of a High Court super-injunction, has spoken out again about the use of injunctions, censorship and creeping privacy laws.
Hemming told MPs: “Vicky Haigh, who is a horse trainer and previously a jockey, was the subject of an attempt by Doncaster Council to imprison her for speaking at a meeting in Parliament.
“There was some discussion earlier today about whether that case was sub-judice. An application was made to the court, a copy of which I have provided.”
Hemming said the court ordered she should not be jailed, adding: “I assume therefore the case is not sub-judice.”
The MP did not give any further details about why Doncaster Council tried to have Ms Haigh imprisoned, or the subject of her controversial Parliamentary speech.
Speaker John Bercow urged Hemming to speak to him privately, telling the MP: “I don’t intend to have a discussion on the floor of the House.
“One of my duties is to uphold the resolution of the House with respect to sub-judice. As far as this particular matter is concerned, I am perfectly prepared to discuss the issue privately.”
Hemming later raised another point of order about injunctions in the Commons, addressing temporary gags which prevent certain issues being aired in public.
He said: “There is a tendency for people to issue injunctions on the basis of a claim they intend to issue proceedings, but not actually to issue those proceedings.
“One would presume therefore that never becomes sub judice.”
Bercow again silenced Hemming saying: “The issue is one for consideration at our private meeting.”
Meanwhile, in the Lords Tory ex-Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit sought clarification on whether injunctions could prevent people discussing matters with MPs, peers, the police or the security services.
Justice minister Lord McNally told himin a written reply that “to protect the interests of justice” the courts could prohibit the disclosure of information to anyone other than the defendant’s legal advisers.
The Liberal Democrat minister added: “The defendant is always at liberty to apply for the order to be made in different terms (if he or she is represented at the hearing), or subsequently for the terms of the order to be amended (for example to permit disclosure to specific individuals or bodies for specific purposes).”