'Super injunction' gags press over footballer's affair

A new ‘super-injunction’has been used by a Premier League footballer to stop national newspapers reporting his alleged marital infidelity.

The Daily Mail identifies the man only as a married England international.

The Daily Mail today reports, in apparent defiance of the order: “So draconian is Mr Justice Tugendhat’s order that even its existence is supposed to be a secret.”

Press Gazette has not been served with the injunction.

The footballer was evidently able to argue that the Daily Mail’s planned revelations were a breach of his privacy.

Case law interpreting the Human Rights Act appears to have established that it is not considered in the public interest to reveal the marital infidelities of public figures. Most famously, Mr Justice Eady ruled last year that the News of the World had breached the confidentiality of married Formula One boss Max Mosley by publishing photos and video of a sado-masochistic orgy he was involved in with five paid dominatrices.

Just before Christmas a Premier League football club manager used an injunction to stop The Sun from revealing that he had visited a Thai “vice den”.

The Daily Mail said in a comment piece today: “Yet another nail was hammered into the coffin of Britain’s freedom of expression this week, when a married England international footballer was granted a sweeping injunction to prevent publication of his affair with the girlfriend of a team-mate.

“It was another step in the development of an insidious and judge-created privacy law that protects the rich and powerful and has never been debated by Parliament.

“In this case the injunction protects the commercial interests of the footballer and his employer, and incidentally casts a shadow over his blameless team mates.

“The media isn’t able to reveal the identity of this individual. It could be anyone from the captain of the top team in the land to a great player in the twilight of his career.

“What we do know without doubt is that this kind of justice is veering in a very dangerous direction.”

In October, oil firm Trafigura used a ‘super injunction’ to stop The Guardian from reporting details of the Minton report into the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast. The injunction was dubbed ‘super’ because it was so wide-ranging that its existence could not even be reported.

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