The Daily Mail today publishes its umpteenth front page highighting the issue of privacy injunctions.
It reveals the story of a Twitter user who has been reporting, often wrongly, on the identity of many of the 30 or more high profile figures who currently have High Court injunctions out preventing stories which could breach their privacy. Many of them are footballers concealing extra-marital affairs.
The Mail reports the false allegations to highlight the fact that injunctions, and super-injunctions, can “damage the reputations of the innocent”.
It seems that as quickly as Twitter can shut down the accounts of the individual who is apparently breaching the various injunctions – the person sets up a fresh account.
The social media website would have to face the full force of the law if it was found to be negligent in allowing an injunction-breaching post to remain live. Breaching an injunction is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison.
A much more serious potential threat to press freedom in my view is the Max Mosley versus UK Government and News of the World judgment – due to be handed down by the European Court this week (Independent on Sunday).
Mosley argues that UK law should be changed to make it compulsory for the subjects of damaging stories which breach their privacy to be notified in advance so that they can seek to block publication by going before a judge.
Mosley argues that in his battle with the News of the World over his extra-marital spanking activities, going to court after the event was pointless and succeeding only in giving the contentious story even more publicity and leaving him out of pocket – even though he won.
The Mosley law could lead to an explosion in the use of injunctions to gag journalists and would place judges in the role of censor.