MP could use Commons Privilege to name those behind secret High Court privacy orders

MP John Hemming is planning to launch a parliamentary inquiry into injunctions, protecting the privacy of the rich and famous and so called “hyper injunctions” – orders so secret they prevent individuals from even talking about a matter to MPs or journalists.

According to the Daily Mail, Hemming plans to compile a list of the orders and try to understand “their full scope and power”. And he could also publish the details of who have taken them out, using Parliamentary Privilege to override the power of the judiciary.

Last week injunctions were used to protect the privacy of a married actor who visited a prostitute and a footballer who had an affair with a reality TV star.

Around 30 such injunctions have been taken out over the last two years.

Hemming has already used Commons Privilege to condemn the “hyper-injunction” used to stop an individual talking about allegations involving toxic waste.

He warned that these orders could have the effect of stifling investigative journalism.

“It’s basically court orders against journalists which ban them even from asking questions about a subject.

“I call this the ‘quaero’ injunction, after the Latin word ‘to seek’. I don’t think this should be allowed in English courts.

“It has the effect of preventing journalists from speaking to people subject to this injunction without a risk of the journalist going to jail. That is a recipe for hiding miscarriages of justice.”

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