A football player named Ryan Giggs is hoping to sue Twitter for breaking a “super injunction”.While originally referred to as simply “CTB“, Giggs has been named in British Parliament as the football player behind the action, according to Sky News.
The Manchester United midfielder is widely speculated to be the same man preventing the press from reporting details of an affair with British television personality Imogan Thomas.
A number of Twitter users are also facing legal action for retweeting or passing on restricted information.
Despite the threats, over the weekend a large number of Twitter users continued to protest the injunctions by tweeting the suspected identity of CTB. The Sunday Herald in Scotland also went so far to put a full page picture of the player on their front page. They also named him in an article about the super injunctions.
British newspapers The Sun and The Daily Mail attempted to have the injunction lifted today, but had their requests refused, according to The Independent.
These “super injunctions” have been a huge source of controversy in the UK. Here’s what you need to know:
What is a super injunction?
While it is used broadly to refer to a range of gagging orders, a super injunction specifically refers to a UK court order that prevents the press reporting not only on details of a court case, but also prevents them from mentioning the fact that the injunction has been taken out.
Other injunctions may just prevent certain details of a case being known, though they are often referred to as super injunctions.
The gagging orders are typically requested by a company or individual preemptively and can be set up in a few hours with a meeting between lawyers and judge.
How widespread are super injunctions?
While we can’t be sure, reports indicate there may be as many as 30 super injunctions.
Some super injunctions have been been lifted and the details became public knowledge. The issue was first brought to light by The Guardian when they reported on details of toxic dumping in Africa by Trafigura. This was made possible by talk of the dumping in the British Parliament, which is not covered by injunction laws. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger coined the term “super injunction”.
The average Brit likely became aware of the injunctions when it was revealed that John Terry, then captain of England’s soccer team, had received an injunction after he was found to be cheating on his wife with a teammate’s girlfriend.
Most of the recent injunctions in the British press have not been technically “super”. For example, it can be reported that Imogan Thomas had a six month affair with a Premiership football player, but his name, or even the club he plays for, cannot be named.
(1) Everyone has the right to privacy for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. (2) There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Various judges have interpreted this article in different ways since its inception, eventually leading to the practice of super injunctions in the past few years.
There is a fairly persuasive argument that the injunctions are a result of decades of the UK’s notoriously rabid press culture. The absurdly wide extend of phone hacking in British media has recently come to light, but there has been decades of questionably moral behaviour from tabloids.
Worth remembering – the UK does not have a written constitution and there is no entrenched protection of freedom of speech like in America.
Why are people worried?
Many argue that the use of super injunctions represents an affront to freedom of speech, and that the UKs strong libel laws mean that the country is becoming a battleground for “libel tourism“. The injunctions are also criticised for favouring the rich due to the large legal costs required to implement them.
Last week Britain’s top judges recommended the injunctions should be used more sparingly.
“A degree of secrecy is often necessary to do justice, but where secrecy is ordered, it should only be to the extent strictly necessary to achieve the interests of justice,” said David Neuberger, the top civil judge in England and Wales,
Why is Twitter being sued?
On May 8th an anonymous Twitter user began tweeting alleged details of celebrity scandals that appeared to be super injunctions — including details that appear to be about the football player “CTB”. While a number of the claims were denied by those involved, the account has over 100,000 followers.
Other Twitter users, including influential accounts such as political blogger Guido Fawkes, have flouted threats of legal action to regularly tweet the redacted names.