Sun hits back at MoD over 'arrogant' SAS injunction

Sun: overturned the injunction in High court

Sun editor David Yelland has accused the Ministry of Defence of behaving in an "arrogant, high-handed manner" when it obtained an injunction to stop his paper naming SAS soldiers.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman, Alastair Campbell, had tried to intervene on The Sun’s behalf, said Yelland, "but even he was unable to break through the bureaucracy and stop it. These MoD lawyers are no friends of the press."

Yelland was speaking last week after the MoD abandoned its wide-ranging injunction against The Sun. It has agreed to pay the newspaper’s legal costs of £13,000.

He and Sun lawyers had protested vigorously from the moment Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon obtained the ex-parte injunction – which would have allowed the MoD access to all the newspaper’s documents and files referring to the soldiers – that it had never intended to name the soldiers anyway (Press Gazette, 7 December).

"We had no intention of naming SAS people, as we have said countless times," Yelland told Press Gazette. "But we had to fight the injunction because it was a very bad precedent."

The idea that MoD officers could come into The Sun and take files on the paper’s stories was "abominable", thought Yelland.

He had contacted 10 Downing Street and believed his assurances of complete anonymity for the soldiers had been accepted, just before the paper was hit with the MoD’s injunction.

The Sun overturned the injunction in the High Court on Thursday of last week. Its solicitor, Daniel Taylor, said: "It was wholly unnecessary for the Secretary of State for Defence to have gone to court, as the editor had made it clear that he would not have published anything which would have led to the four SAS personnel wounded in Afghanistan being identified.

"Indeed, there was nothing contained in the article which was not in the public domain, as the Ministry of Defence now acknowledges.

"Hopefully, these matters will now be dealt with in the usual way via the DA-Notice Committee, as opposed to court hearings to obtain injunctions against the press."

Rear Admiral Nick Wilkinson, secretary of the DA-Notice Committee, had already issued advice to editors about strict anonymity for SAS forces before the MoD’s injunction.


By Jean Morgan

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