23rd May 2011

Thousands of fans chant his name at match
  • Does ANYONE still not know who they're all talking about?

  • A
    footballer's court battle to keep his alleged affair secret has
    provoked one of the biggest acts of civil disobedience in modern times.

    The face of the star alleged to have taken out a privacy injunction was yesterday published by a Scots newspaper.

    fans mockingly chanted his name at a match with a worldwide audience.
    And he was mentioned more than 30,000 times on Twitter, helping to
    ensure that anyone still unaware of his identity can discover it with a
    few clicks of a mouse.

    Lady in red: A premiership footballer who has tried to gag the press over his affair with Imogen Thomas has been named by a Scottish newspaper
    Twitter: Thomas was linked with the footballer more than 30,000 times on the micro-blogging site
    Lady in red: A premiership footballer, who has
    tried to gag the press over his affair with Imogen Thomas has been named
    by a Scottish newspaper and was linked to her more than 30,000 times on
    Comments posted by users on Twitter with the player's name blacked out

    Within 24 hours of the player launching the new
    legal challenge, more than 12,000 tweets about him and the relationship
    appeared on the site. Here are some of them with the player's name
    blacked out

    The dramatic backlash took its cue
    from MPs and peers who have spoken against injunctions. It left judges
    facing an overwhelming task if they try to maintain the gagging order
    while preserving any shreds of respect for the courts and their privacy

    One MP suggested that
    only a minority of people have not now heard a name for the Premier
    League footballer, who was granted a privacy injunction in April which
    forbade publication of his name or allegations that he had a six-month
    affair with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

    speculation on his identity began within a week, was fuelled by an MP
    who blurted out his name during the recording of a television programme,
    and was helped along by Miss Thomas, who has complained frequently that
    she can be named and her reputation has been traduced.

    Glasgow-based Sunday Herald yesterday published a picture of the
    player on its front page, clearly identifiable despite a bar placed
    over his eyes.
    It named him inside the paper and added that his
    action against Twitter ‘raises questions over the future of free speech
    on social media sites’.

    The paper has a circulation of just over 30,000, which means it is likely to be read by between 75,000 and 100,000 people.




    The censored Twitter messages of an international TV star, a pop singer, an author and a comedian

    The censored Twitter messages relating to an
    injunction brought out by another footballer of an international TV
    star, a pop singer, an author and a comedian
    Spotlight: Former Big Brother star Imogen Thomas (L) shopping with a friend at the weekend

    Spotlight: Former Big Brother star Imogen Thomas (L) shopping with a friend at the weekend

    effect of English privacy injunctions in Scotland has been a legal grey
    area. Scotland has a separate legal system and in the landmark
    Spycatcher case in 1986, Scottish newspapers ignored English judges and
    published material from the banned book by a former MI5 agent.

    Scottish newspapers circulate in England and their editors have been
    careful until now to stick by the letter of privacy injunctions.

    McBride QC, the Sunday Herald's legal adviser, said it was unacceptable
    for unelected judges to make the decisions to grant injunctions in

    Speaking on
    BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr McBride said
    there needed to be a debate about the way forward over granting privacy

    He said:
    'Parliament now have to look at this issue. We can't have unelected
    judges making these decisions in private when we have the internet out
    there where everyone can access the information they're trying to keep

    'We had the
    absurd position this week of even MPs in our democratically elected
    Parliament being threatened with potential contempt of court by using
    their parliamentary privilege to name people. That's not acceptable

    Mr McBride
    added: 'We're having this kind of surreal, parallel universe
    conversation where everyone with a mobile phone and access to the
    internet knows who the individual is but mainstream news organisations
    can't publish his name.

    the case of the Sunday Herald, the decision was one of principle. The
    so-called super-injunction didn't apply in this particular jurisdiction
    and those representing the particular individual didn't take precautions
    to apply for an interdict in Scotland.

    relation to the Sunday Herald article there was no discussion about the
    individual's private life it was simply to name him as the person who
    was using a tool of law which has widely now been brought into


    Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond
    said it would be 'extremely foolish' for the Attorney General in England
    to try to start proceedings against a Scottish publication.

    'I think it would be very, very
    unlikely that an Attorney General would be as foolish as to do so,' he
    told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

    'I think the political issue is whether it is tenable to pursue this sort of injunction.

    'I would have thought there is an
    increasing view it is untenable to do so. There is a whole question of
    what is of interest to the public and what is in the public interest,
    which can often be different things.

    'But the law essentially is a
    practical thing. It looks to me like English law and English injunctions
    are increasingly impractical in the modern world.'

    Mr Salmond ridiculed the idea that English court rules on any subject 'should pertain across the planet'.

    alleged footballer’s name and a sexual allegation was chanted by his
    club’s supporters at a Premiership match yesterday. And he was mentioned
    in connection with the privacy case in the online reference site

    Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who has campaigned against privacy injunctions, said: ‘This is an oppressive and sinister farce.’

    Hemming, who first identified disgraced banker Sir Fred Goodwin in
    connection with a super-injunction in the Commons, said: ‘The judges are
    trying to reverse the tide of civil disobedience with draconian
    attempts to suppress the truth.

    ‘But this is now the biggest wave of
    civil disobedience anyone can remember. There are at least 30,000 people
    defying the judges on the internet.’

    He added: ‘People are finding
    that the more you try to suppress something on the internet, the more it
    is published. Attempts to silence the internet are much more in the
    interest of the lawyers than the footballers.’

    The open defiance of
    the privacy laws, developed by judges on the back of Labour’s Human
    Rights Act, has mushroomed to unprecedented levels thanks to the

    Last week Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, backed by
    Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, threatened to restrict reporting of
    Parliament in the attempt to shore up the effectiveness of secrecy

    The judges are to stage talks with Commons Speaker John
    Bercow and Lords Speaker Baroness Hayman to try to stop MPs and peers
    using Parliamentary privilege to name those who have been given

    Judges have also been told that in future privacy
    injunctions should ban anyone from gossiping about names involved, and
    newspapers should pass on the names of all journalists in the know to
    the lawyers of celebrities with injunctions.

    Yesterday Tory MP
    Douglas Carswell said the law is ‘an ass’. He added: ‘Mr Bercow should
    remind the judges that the Commons is elected – and it is their
    Lordships’ appetite for self-aggrandisement that has left them looking

    Several celebrities, including XXXX XXXXXX, the broadcaster, author and XXXX XX XXXXXX columnist, XXX XXXXX, the singer, and the comedians XXXX XXXXXXX and XXX XXXX

    are among those who posted tweets at the weekend which either
    identified the star in connection to the relationship or heavily hinted
    at his involvement.

    The attempt to silence Twitter may
    turn into an own goal because several of the celebrity tweeters have
    followings which far exceed the circulations of some of the newspapers
    the star is trying to silence.

    Stevens, who advises businesses on social media, said the attempt to
    silence Twitter was like ‘pouring petrol on the flames’.

    He said: ‘It is like that famous scene in Spartacus where everyone puts their hand up and claims to be the hero of the piece.

    ‘Everyone on Twitter is now queuing up to name that footballer.

    ‘There are so many people out there
    talking about it, you might as well say you can’t talk on the phone or
    in the pub about something.’

    TV star who tweeted footballer's name could be jailed... and NO ONE would know

    For the first time in centuries someone could be sent to prison in Britain and no one would be allowed to know who they were.

    sinister scenario emerged yesterday when it was revealed a TV
    personality was facing jail for repeating the name of an England 
    footballer with a privacy injunction.

    the media personality is named in any trial for contempt of court then
    the footballer’s injunction will be effectively broken. So if judges are
    to keep to the terms of the injunction the trial is meant to protect,
    he cannot be named.

    Hidden: The TV star who repeated the footballer's name on Twitter could be secretly sent to prison

    Hidden: The TV star who repeated the footballer's name on Twitter could be secretly sent to prison
    Yesterday they were warned that any
    move to imprison someone while keeping their identity secret would be
    ‘absolutely against the principles of open justice.’

    Kafka-esque twist in the privacy law row comes after a judge acted on
    complaints from the footballer’s lawyers. They protested his gagging
    order had been broken by the media celebrity on Twitter.

    complaint could end in a test-case trial for contempt of court and a
    range of possible punishments, from a minor fine up to imprisonment.

    However at present the individual cannot be named, because to do so would be to break the footballer’s privacy injunction.

    his Twitter postings which identified the footballer have been taken
    down, they have been copied by other websites and there is
    easily-discovered internet speculation linking the celebrity with the

    No one is thought to have been sentenced and punished by English courts for centuries without being publicly named.

    the recent past a number of foreign terrorist suspects who were unnamed
    have been held in prison.  But their detention, which was stopped after
    a House of Lords ruling, did not follow trial and conviction, and they
    would have been released at any time if they had agreed to be deported.

    could also have allowed their names to be published if they had wished.
    The celebrity named the married footballer, who is alleged to have had
    an affair, in tweets during a recent notable football match. A series of
    messages joked at the player’s expense.

    Thursday Mr Justice Tugendhat agreed to refer the celebrity’s behaviour
    to the Attorney General, who must decide whether to bring a prosecution
    for contempt. It was the first time a judge has sent an alleged breach
    of a privacy injunction for consideration for a contempt prosecution.

    Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, must decide whether it is in the
    public interest to bring a prosecution. If he recommends prosecution,
    the trial will go ahead in the Divisional Court, a section of the High
    Court, presided over by two senior judges. There would be no jury  so
    the celebrity could not hope to escape conviction because the ordinary
    people who compose a jury thought the charges against him were

    A spokesman for
    the Attorney General said he had yet to receive the referral and was
    unable to comment. The celebrity, who appears in a popular BBC TV
    programme and writes for a major newspaper, said: ‘I don’t understand
    how it can be contempt of court but if it is I need to be quite careful
    about what is being said. The courts take contempt matters very
    seriously and I don’t want to get in any trouble with the courts.’


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