A soccer player who is famous in the United Kingdom, Ryan Giggs, apparently obtained a “super-injunction” to force the press to not reveal his name in connection with ongoing litigation involving an extra-marital affair he allegedly had with UK reality-television star Imogen Thomas. He has now apparently sued Twitter and Twitter users for revealing his identity.
The so-called super-injunction is one that not only gags the press and others with regard to the sensitive subject matter (such as allegations of an extra-marital affair), but also prohibits the press from even reporting about the injunction itself, thus shielding the identity of the person who took out the super-injunciton.
As your author of Blog Law Blog, based in the United States, I am confident that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects my ability to identify the person. And regardless, free-speech sufficient to discuss the use and potential over-use of judicial power ought to be considered a universal human right.
I actually looked through several news stories looking for the athlete’s name. All the sites I read, all of which were UK-based, were very cheeky, refusing to name Griggs, but dropping lots of hints, implying that the reader must then know who it was.
I’m sorry, but for me, on this side of the pond, if it’s not David Beckham, then I’m not going to know who it is unless you give me a name.
I eventually was able to get Griggs’s name through Google’s auto-complete feature, by typing in “superinjunction footballer …”
And now Griggs is suing Twitter, which was apparently where his identity broke.
Good luck with that, buddy. You’ll need it.
Twitter, based in San Francisco, U.S.A., has not only the First Amendment protecting it, but also the super-safe-harbor of section 230.
And now, here’s my commentary on the law: The super-injunction is a rank abuse of judicial power. It’s especially disappointing, to me, since the United Kingdom is one of the few countries on Earth that places the sort of premium on free speech that the United States does.
Imogen Thomas, Griggs’s ex-squeeze, who has been accused of blackmail in this whole thing, had this to say in the UK’s Daily Mail, which I think shows quite nicely what is wrong with the super-injunction as a legal institution:
“Yet again my name and my reputation are being trashed while the man I had a relationship with is able to hide.
“What’s more, I can’t even defend myself because I have been gagged. Where’s the fairness in that? What about my reputation?
“If this is the way privacy injunctions are supposed to work then there’s something seriously wrong with the law.”