Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

“nor does it sit comfortably with the transparency expectations of a modern society”

Mon 6 June 2011, 8:19pm

As the BBC reports, in response to a written question from TUV leader, Jim Allister, MLA, the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, David Ford, has revealed that, in the last 4 years, there have been 4 ‘super-injunctions’ granted in Northern Ireland - that is, court orders made “prohibiting publicity on the granting of injunctive relief”.  From the BBC report

The North Antrim MLA said he hoped the information “may stimulate some necessary debate” on the issue.

“The mystery and secrecy surrounding injunctive relief is generally not healthy, nor does it sit comfortably with the transparency expectations of a modern society,” Mr Allister said.

“Thus, establishing that there have been four ‘super injunctions’ in Northern Ireland contributes in a small way to redressing the balance of secrecy.”

And the UTV report adds

[Mr Allister] added: “The growth of super-injunctions is a product of the courts being persuaded to prioritise privacy rights over freedom of expression and press rights within the Human Rights Act.

“I am far from convinced that this balance is weighted in the right direction – particularly where it is a facility which, in practical terms, is only likely to be available to those who can afford it.”

Of course, it’s not the only way by which those “transparency expectations” have been thwarted…

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Comments (16)

  1. joeCanuck (profile) says:

    I think people should be entitled to privacy unless there is wrongdoing, public lying or hypocrisy involved. So, for example, if an MP or two are bisexual, it’s nobody’s business but their own and their partner(s). Unless they have publicly denounced homosexuality, in which case i don’t think they should be entitled to an injunction, let alone a superinjunction in order to hide their hypocrisy..

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  2. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    Wonder how long these injunctions will last now the whole justifcation is under pressure, with a fixed number the speculation will mount and maybe like the footy players all will eventually come out, I can guess at two of them, but will obviously say nothing!!
    Don’t want Slugger in the dock!

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  3. Crubeen (profile) says:

    Joe,

    Isn’t it hypocrisy in the self-styled great and good that the Press wishes to shine light upon? Is it not in the public interest that the hypocrisy of great and good who seek or enjoy publicity when it suits them, be made apparent to all?

    If those in the limelight choose to cheat on their spouses and families I belive thay ought to be exposed … in the press and not just to those with whom they have cheated.

    If corporations break the law they should not be entitled to any injunctive relief beyond what is strictly necessary to avoid prejudice at trial. And to ensure a trial takes place, injunctive relief should be strictly limited as to its duration.

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  4. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Good to see Jim Allister participating in the assembly and even on one of the committees holding the government to account. Some of his interventions today were even sensible.

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  5. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    I think Jimbo will earn his pay by keeping everyone else on their toes, not having a “real” party to placate helps!

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  6. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I don’t feel at all mischievous by pointing out that Allister is lending credibility to the administration whose existence he opposes by participating on one of its committees.

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  7. joeCanuck (profile) says:

    Crubeen,
    Part of the problem with trying to “shine a light” is that a lot of the press don’t really give a s**t. Some of the press barons are among the biggest hypocrites. All of us like to gossip to some degree and the only thing that some, if not all, papers care about is pandering to that in order to sell more copies. Dough is what matters to them.

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  8. lamhdearg (profile) says:

    I dont think that the press should be able to print anything about anyone without their premission/consent unless, it is to report that said person has been found guilty of an offence in a court of law, or if it is reported as a quote from a named scorce.

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  9. Nevin (profile) says:

    “I don’t feel at all mischievous by pointing out that Allister is lending credibility to the administration”

    The administration has very little credibility and participation in a committee can well expose some of the shenanigans as happened during the course of the investigations into NI Water.

    Which committees does Jim Allister sit on?

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  10. JH (profile) says:

    For the record I wasn’t going to name anyone.

    This is a clear strategy by Jim, he knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s got the dirt and he’s going to load on the pressure until things go one way or the other.

    Either way, it’s important and deserves to be talked about.

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  11. DC (profile) says:

    Ah well, long runs the fox.

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  12. What worries me now is that I am only aware of two super injunctions out of the four. Since they are generally ‘contra mundo’ – ie, apply to all in the jurisdiction – how can I avoid breaching the ones I DON’T know about?! Ignorance is bliss, but not a legal defence, which sucks. Like @%!&) !?#-#+$!?@, apparently.

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  13. pippakin (profile) says:

    It seems Mr Alister is having some effect, well done him because its more than any of the rest have done. All the north is short of is their very own Ryan Giggs…

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  14. joeCanuck (profile) says:

    BG,

    Interesting question. If you don’t know about the superinjunction and you have info and spill the beans, do you have any legal defence? It isn’t the same as saying that you didn’t know that threatening someone, for example, was illegal. In these cases, the Law has conspired to make sure that you have no possibility of knowing.Any lawyers care to opine?

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  15. thethoughtfulone (profile) says:

    [Mod - deleted]

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  16. thethoughtfulone (profile) says:

    “I think people should be entitled to privacy unless there is wrongdoing, public lying or hypocrisy involved.”

    I think that would in effect be like saying you are against super-injunctions as I’m quite sure that all of them involve fairly copious quantities of at least one of the above and more likely all of them!

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