Monday, 23 May 2011

Super injunctions - not just about celebs

It's a very British thing:  a meeting of the obsession with 'privacy', and a  prurient fascination for other people's sex lives - all fused with the lynch-rule of a puritanical mob. Throw in a footballer or a celebrity or two and a not-really-a-celebrity photogenic gold-digger - and bingo we have the perfect storm. Then give it an added comic twist with some judges proving that they are indeed silly old farts by trying to police what is being said via social-networking on this new-fangled inter-web thingy. And let's not forget the biggest gold-digger of the lot - Max- fucking -Clifford.

It's tempting to say good riddance to the whole circus.

But then I remember that the first time I heard the expression 'super-injunction' was when Trafigura tried to hush up their dumping of toxic waste on the Ivory Coast. 100,000 people required medical help for which  the company accepted no liability  but still  paid the government $200 million  in hush money. So footballers and gold diggers aside there's a very important issue here - free speech in this country is something of an illusion when it can be brought off by the highest bidder. 

Libel laws may once have been intended to protect the individual - although historically that seems dubious - but when it costs about 150 times as much to bring a libel suit in this country as it does in the rest of Europe, and there's no legal aid available -  it does look suspiciously like a law only for the benefit of the  rich.

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