Somali pirates, the kidnapped Chandlers and the super injunction

The family of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the couple freed over the weekend after being held by Somali pirates for more than a year, took out a super injunction creating a news blackout around the release of their loved ones, the BBC has revealed.

With echoes of the order which kept Prince Harry’s deployment in Afghanistan secret for several months, BBC World News editor Jon Williams blogged yesterday about how, some months ago, the Chandler family sought a “super-injunction”, prohibiting the media from reporting any developments in their case.

He wrote:

‘Lawyers for the family argued that speculation about their health, about any possible ransom and on the negotiations about their release might prolong their captivity. The injunction was designed to protect the safety of the Chandlers – and prevented us from referring even to its existence.

‘Such were the fears for their safety – and so dangerous is Somalia – that the injunction set out two criteria that needed to be met before we could report the couple’s release; first Paul and Rachel Chandler must have left Somalia, and second, they must be in the custody of Foreign Office officials.

‘The family, their lawyers, and observers in Somalia feared that the couple might be freed by their original captors, and then seized by others seeking further ransom for the Chandlers’ release.

‘The BBC and other news organisations observed the injunction issued by the High Court.

‘While we’re not in the business of censoring the news, no story is worth a life – we accepted the argument of the family, their lawyers and the judge that to do otherwise would jeopardise the safety of Paul and Rachel Chandler.

‘Some other news organisations did not – which is why, for some hours, during the Chandlers’ dangerous journey through Somalia to the safety of Kenya, the BBC stayed silent while pictures of the couple could be seen elsewhere.”

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