Nationals continue attack on 'draconian' celebrity gagging orders

Celebrity gagging orders dominate the pages of the Daily Mail and The Times today.

The Daily Mail splashed with yesterday’s news that a married man working in the entertainment industry who had admitted an affair with a colleague was granted a gagging order by the Court of Appeal.

The Mail claimed the ‘draconian’decision was a ‘major step forward’for secrecy laws that allow celebrities to hide their involvement in sex scandals.

It went on to argue that the privacy law developed by judges in the UK over the past few years ‘means that, for the first time in more than 100 years, newspapers, broadcasters and individuals are forbidden by law from telling the truth about people”.

This is followed up with an editorial piece targeting Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Ward.

The Times has run an editorial (this is behind a paywall) on the same subject, in which Justice Ward once again finds himself under fire:

The judge said his decision was also guided by concern that the celebrity’s children might be embarrassed and bullied in the playground. There was, of course, an easier way for this man to spare his children any embarrassment, which was to keep his pants zipped up.

Interestingly, The Times is keen to point out a gender imbalance when it comes to injunctions – pointing out that what the applicants have in common is that they are mostly men. It goes on:

So, too, are the judges who grant their applications for injunctions. And most of the targets of their gagging orders? Women. However aggrieved you may justifiably feel at the stifling of free speech resulting from such injunctions, however much you may rightly feel aggrieved that, as far as privacy injunctions go, the law allows the rich the privilege of living by separate rules from you and me, you would have cause to feel doubly aggrieved if you are a woman.

On pages six and seven the paper details around 30 cases in which similar privacy injunctions have been granted by judges, again pointing out that

Only three of the known injunctions have been obtained by women, leading to claims that wealthy and powerful men are able to gag less influential women from speaking out.

The article also lists the men (and one woman) who are granting the injunctions, including Mr Justice Eady, Mr Justice Tugendhat, Mr Justice Blake and Mrs Justice Sharpe.

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