Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Super-Injunct This!

In England and Wales, a superinjunction (or super-injunction) is a form of gagging order in which the press is prohibited from reporting even the existence of the injunction, or any details of it (Wikipedia).

There have been a number of these so-called "super-injunctions" being reported about in the press as of late - which is a bit strange if the purpose of taking one out is to prohibit the reporting of it. What is being reported is "famous married TV actor has affair" or "footballer has affair with model TV star" etc. Basically, the press is revealing something has happened but for legal reasons, can’t give out too much in the way of information. For famous people they tend to be taken out to protect details of their infidelities being published in newspapers; although they have been taken out for other reasons. One major example being:

"An example was the super-injunction raised in September 2009 by Carter-Ruck solicitors on behalf of oil trader Trafigura, prohibiting the reporting of an internal Trafigura report into the 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump scandal. The existence of the super-injunction was only revealed when it was referred to in a parliamentary question which was subsequently circulated on the internet (parliamentary privilege protects statements which would otherwise be held to be in contempt of court)." (Wikipedia)

In the example of Carter-Ruck, I can see the purpose of a super-injunction being taken out (not that I agree with it). However when it comes to celebrities taking them out to protect themselves from reports of the mistakes they have made, I find myself wondering (as with a lot of things) - why do people care?

Let's use the example of Andrew Marr. He has made a reputation out of being a tough interviewer, asking questions which politicians might not want in the public domain (one famous example was asking Gordon Brown if he was taking prescription medication). However, to avoid tough questions regarding his personal affairs, he hid behind the legal system by taking a super-injunction to prevent the news being reported. Now that I am aware of this going on, I have a lower opinion of him. But the fact still remains that what he does in his personal life is his (and his family's) business - I'm not interested in the revelation that this celebrity is in fact a human - and like all humans, he fucked up.

The two examples I mentioned above have had people wondering who they are and making guesses. I'm not going to put any of the guesses on this page (as doing so would hold me in contempt of court) but more than that - I just don't care. I wasn’t one of the 10s of thousands who followed a twitter account, supposedly revealing this information (which has all turned out to be incorrect i believe). Just like in the Andrew Marr case, I will have a lower opinion of these people if it is revealed to be them but I will remember that it is none of my business - and this something I wish the media would remember.

I see the newspapers and gossip magazines and sigh. They seem to forget what I mentioned above - these people on their front pages (whose lives they dissect) are people who deserve their privacy. No-one should need to take a super-injunction if they have had an affair, because something like that is a private matter. Or at least it should be. Making money by discussing celebrities’ private lives is really quite pathetic. I'm in a room typing this, surrounded by these magazines. I'm seeing such headlines like "Coleen - Forgiving Wayne Was A Mistake" and "Loose Women - Love Battles". I cannot imagine a person who would like their private life to be dissected in such a manor. I also don't want to meet the person who buys these magazines because of this ill-perceived notion that because they are famous "we have a right to know" as that quite frankly is bollocks. The justification for these publications existing is simply that "the magazines sell" - which to me is slightly depressing. Just seeing these makes me sympathise with the people who feel the need to protect their private lives through the super injunction.

Can it be resolved? Well there is no way of stopping the likes of "Heat" and "Look" (there are others but they are the two near me right now) from continuing to publish the details of celebrities lives. There is also no way of stopping the tabloids and dirt sheets from publishing these things - for the simple reason that they sell. Why do they sell? This is where my confusion lies. I respect a number of celebrities for their talented that have elevated them to the position of celebrity, but I am just not interested in their private lives.

I went on a slight detour then from super-injunctions to dirt sheet magazines/newspapers. I have a number of questions which conclude this post - questions that I don't know the full answer to.

1. Why do people care about the details of super-injunctions?
2. Do we have the ability to respect privacy when it comes to celebrities?
3. As a people, have we forgotten that celebrities are also people?
4. Why is it that exploting and dissecting the private lives of celebrities is seen as a way to make money?

As a final thought, I heard on the radio yesterday that Kelvin McKenzie (former Editor of The Sun) has allegedly been emailing the restricted information protected by these super-injunctions to people who have asked for it. I say allegedly as it hasn't been proven but if that's true, he really is a fucking idiot. When it comes to this sort of thing, there aren't many ways to be really stupid, but that is one.

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