A High Court judge has published his reasoning in the case of a married UK footballer who is fighting to retain his privacy despite Twitter outcry.
In it, Mr Justice Tugendhat explains that the “difficulties” and ease with which Twitter users have broken the injunction does not mean the injunction – granted to a footballer dubbed “TSE” and a woman with whom he had an affair, “ELP” – should stand for nothing.
The footballer is suing Twitter and its users for publishing his supposed identity.
Here are some excerpts…
“(The claimants’ solicitor) has put before the court evidence of publication concerning these proceedings which have been made through various electronic media, including Twitter, in addition to the publications made on the print and online editions of The Sun and The Mail.
“The court does not grant injunctions which would be futile. But the fact that these publications have occurred does not mean that the there should be no injunction in this case.
“In the present case the effect of the publications to which (the claimants’ solicitor) referred me is that private information which was secret is no longer secret. So to that extent one purpose of the injunction has been defeated.
“But the extent of the publications, and the tone of the publications demonstrates that… there is a pressing need for the injunction to prevent harassment and unjustified intrusion into the lives of the Claimants and the man’s family.
“In the course of his submissions, Mr Caldecott referred to the difficulty that claimants may have in enforcing injunctions against those who publish private information on the internet.
“The difficulties are well known. However, as the (European Court of Human Rights) confirmed in the (Max) Mosley case, whether or not an injunction is granted, claimants continue to have the right to claim damages, whether or not those who publish the information have had notice of any injunction.”
Updated: Shortly after this story was published, a member of parliament named the footballer as Ryan Giggs in the House Of Commons, breaking the injunction under parliamentary privilege protection. News media are now free to report Giggs’ name since they are free to report on parliamentary business. This may blunt Giggs’ will to sue Twitter and its users.