A serving MP may have taken out a super-injunction preventing details of their activities being exposed, it was claimed today.
The disclosure came in the Commons as MPs discussed future Parliamentary business – including whether to debate creeping judge-made privacy laws and the spiralling use of gagging orders.
Each Thursday MPs are allowed to press Leader of the House Sir George Young to allocate Government time for debates. Conservative MP for Hendon Matthew Offord used today’s session to raise the gagging orders.
He said: “There has been much public discussion on the increasing use of super-injunctions and the ability of judges to decide policy instead of elected Parliamentarians.
“Is the Leader of the House aware of the anomaly this creates if, as has been rumoured, a member of this place seeks a super-injunction to prevent discussion of their activities?”
He urged the Government to set aside time for a Commons debate on gagging orders.
Sir George replied: “This is a very important issue about how we balance on the one hand an individual’s right to privacy and, on the other hand, the freedom of expression and transparency.”
He said an inquiry by senior judge Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, would examine super-injunctions “and other issues relating to injunctions which bind the press”.
Sir George added: “The Government will await the report from the Master of the Rolls before deciding the next step, and it may then be appropriate for the House to have a debate on this important issue.”
Today’s disclosure came two months after former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin was named in the Commons as the subject of a super-injunction.
The court gagging order was so strict it even banned references to Sir Fred – nicknamed “Fred the Shred” – as “a banker”.
But it was exposed in the Commons by Liberal Democrat John Hemming (Birmingham Yardley) who used Parliamentary privilege to disclose its existence.
Mr Hemming said in March: “In a secret hearing Fred Goodwin has obtained a super-injunction preventing him being identified as a banker.
“Will the Government have a debate or a statement on freedom of speech and whether there’s one rule for the rich like Fred Goodwin and one rule for the poor?”