It is unlikely that our Great Leader, prime minister Camerondirect, will feel the need to park a tiger ( a euphemism/synonym for vomiting which I have used for 30 years) after reading the European Court of Human Rights decision in MOSLEY v UNITED KINGDOM. The ‘unelected’ judges did the biz today for some vested interests.
Inevitably Mosley is seeking to appeal to The Grand Chamber. The judgment seemed, to my eye, to be fairly robust and clear. I suspect an appeal may prove to be an uphill struggle. Judging by his entirely private hobby – a hobby enjoyed by countless thousands throughout the land? – ‘prior restraint’ seems to one of his interests. Good luck to him. Could be good money after bad?
Rosalind English, writing in The UK Human Rights Blog, notes: “The Strasbourg Court has ruled that the United Kingdom has not breached the right to privacy by failing to have in place a “pre-notification” requirement that would have alerted Max Mosley to the News of the World’s impending publication of covertly filmed footage…..”
Libertarians and others with little taste for censorship of any kind will be delighted with this result. The mainstream media will also be delighted with the judgment. It would not surprise me if some newspapers now tweak that ‘margin of appreciation’ and not bother to ‘prior notify’ shaggers and other wrongdoers whose (arguably) private hobbies provide salacious delectation to readers of tabloids (and, latterly, the broadsheets) in the mornings before work.
We have seen that twitter and the net has effectively sunk the superinjunction as a realistic tool for suppressing information. This has been covered by many in recent days: A super-injunction toolkit
David Allen Green has this in The New Statesman: Thinking clearly about superinjunctions
One thing, for certain, is that the cats on twitter and other social meeedja will not be herded. I suspect that any revision of libel law and privacy – separate issues but linked – will have to consider carefully the reality of the jurisdiction of the English court and the use of injunctions. I cannot see thousands of tweeters being carted off to jail for contempt.
The difficulty is straightforward in one respect. Freedom of the press is crucial to any nation. The right to privacy and freedom of expression are both enshrined by law. Injunctions are not working. Perhaps compensatory (or even aggravated) damages may prove to be the only effective remedy for invasions of privacy – however defined – when Parliament finally gets around to drafting laws on this…as surely, they must now?
I do not know, but I suspect that commentators are right in saying that the judges will be losing little sleep on the issue. They will have an interest in ensuring that the rule of law is upheld – but it is not for them to prosecute injunction breakers? The judges are merely applying the law as it stands at present; using a remedy of injunction which has been around for some time and developed in recent years to provide ‘some relief’.
Dominic Lawson, writing in the i newspaper, summed it up quite well when he stated that many who read of the exploits of the shaggers… actors, footballers etc etc – role models for the future of our Big Society – are more likely to be impressed than horrified. Worse… Lawson wrote… readers may even start emulating this behaviour. So, is it really in the ‘public interest’ to know about these exploits and allow the press to make a packet from this mild top shelf porn… he noted, referring to Mr Paul D’Acre’s antics some years ago on this issue?
Freedom of the press is and should be about the really serious stuff – when those who govern, those who run large corporates, those in any public office affecting our lives, transgress. We have a right to know. That, really, is in the public interest. Superinjunctions should be severely restricted in such instances, perhaps even abolished? After all, if the allegations made by a journalist are wrong – the penalties can be high and made even higher by legislation. The debate will run and run… it is not over yet.
Carl Gardner, author the Head of Legal blog: Mosley v UK