Review urges sparing use of British super-injunctions
British court injunctions banning the media from reporting that the rich and famous have won gagging orders should only be granted where strictly necessary, a long-awaited judicial report said Friday.
Newspapers and broadcasters who may be silenced by such bans should also be informed beforehand, according to senior judge David Neuberger.
He began the inquiry last year after a row over a so-called super-injunction granted to married England football captain John Terry to stop the media publicising his affair with a teammate's ex-girlfriend.
Super-injunctions ban the publication of details of the case in question and any mention of the ban itself, and their increasing use sparked concern that the principles of press freedom and open justice were being undermined.
The report revealed that only two super-injunctions had been issued in the past year, but said there had been number of anonymised injunctions, where media can report the existence of the ban but not the person who brought it.
However, it stressed the importance of conducting justice in the open and said judges should depart from this only where "strictly necessary", and then injunctions should be short-term, and kept under review by the court.
It suggested that the media should be alerted to applications for such injunctions, subject to a confidentiality agreement.
"Where privacy and confidentiality are involved, a degree of secrecy is often necessary to do justice," Neuberger, known as the Master of the Rolls, told a press conference in London.
"However, where secrecy is ordered it should only be to the extent strictly necessary to achieve the interests of justice."
Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge, the country's top judge, acknowledged that court injunctions are often ignored by users of social networks such as Twitter, or bloggers, and there is little that the authorities can do to stop them.
He said the Internet offered "by no means the same degree of intrusion into privacy as the story being emblazoned on the front pages of newspapers", which are more trusted.
But he added: "I'm not giving up on the possibility that people who peddle lies about others through technology may not one day be brought under control."
© 2011 AFP