Celebrity who had affair can be named, but not yet: UK judges

18th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

A court order which banned the naming of a celebrity who had extramarital sexual relations can be lifted, judges in London ruled Monday in a high-profile case that has sparked accusations of censorship.

But they added that the man, who is known only as PJS, cannot be identified straight away as he may be allowed to appeal against the decision in Britain's highest court.

The case has turned the spotlight on the tough system of injunctions in England and Wales which means that celebrities can use court orders to prevent reporting of indiscretions in their private lives.

Although the man in question has already been identified on Twitter and in the US and Scotland -- where the legal system is different -- British newspapers have not yet been able to name him.

One of the judges, Lord Rupert Jackson, said in Monday's ruling that "knowledge of relevant matters" was "now so widespread" that confidentiality had "probably been lost".

"Much of the harm which the injunction was intended to prevent has already occurred," he added. "The court should not make orders which are ineffective."

The case was brought by the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun on Sunday tabloid although a string of British newspapers have published articles condemning the ban on identifying him as an impingement on press freedom.

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail ran a front page story headlined: "Why the law is an ass! Countless Americans can read about a married celebrity dad having a threesome with another couple. So why are our judges banning YOU from knowing his name?"

In one of the few injunction cases where the celebrity's identity was made public, footballer Ryan Giggs -- now assistant manager of Manchester United -- secured a court order to prevent the disclosure that he had had an extra-marital affair.

But a lawmaker named him in the House of Commons in 2011, taking advantage of parliamentary privilege which meant he was not prosecuted for doing so and making Giggs's name public in the process.

Judges are expected to decide later this week on whether or not PJS can appeal against Monday's ruling. If he is not allowed to, it is likely that his name would be made public shortly afterwards.

© 2016 AFP

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