Prime Minister pledges action on 'super injunctions'

Justice Secretary Jack Straw is to examine the use of so-called “super injunctions” following the Trafigura row, the Prime Minister told MPs said today.

Gordon Brown said the granting of secret injunctions, which not only banned reporting of a story but also of the existence of the ban itself was an “unfortunate area of the law”.

Yesterday The Guardian reported that it had been prevented from reporting a Parliamentary question relating to oil company Trafigura because of an injunction obtained by the firm’s lawyers, Carter Ruck.

Tory MP Peter Bottomley raised the issue at Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons today, saying: “No court should grant such an order and I intend to report them to the Law Society for asking for the injunction.”

He called for details of secret or emergency injunctions to be placed in the House of Commons library and Press Gallery and added that any such order should be reviewed the next working day at the Court of Appeal.

Brown said: “This is an issue where an injunction has been awarded but it has been awarded in the context where it has to remain secret and people are not told what the outcome is generally.

“The Justice Secretary has talked to the parties concerned and is looking into this issue.”

He then told Bottomley: “I hope that on the basis of what you suggest progress can be made not just in this case but more generally to clear up what is an unfortunate area of the law.”

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger yesterday hailed a “great victory for free speech” and said lawyers had “caved in” over the order which prevented reporting of a question asked by Labour’s Paul Farrelly.

In a statement yesterday, Carter Ruck said: “There has never been any question of Trafigura applying for an injunction that had as its purpose the prevention of publication of any matter arising in Parliament. No such application has ever been made.

“Nevertheless, as formulated (and as The Guardian apparently accepts) the Order would indeed have prevented The Guardian from reporting on the Parliamentary Question which had been tabled for later this week.”

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