Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Why John Hemming was wrong to name Ryan Giggs and Giles Coren

Lib Dem MP John Hemming is all over the front pages of today's newspapers because of his decision to name Ryan Giggs and Giles Coren in the House of Commons yesterday. I think he was wrong to name either.

John has a very admirable history of campaigning against various types of injunctions. The basis for his campaigns have been to highlight what he perceives to be injustices in the child care system where, he alleges, injunctions can be used to prevent parents defending themselves against claims of abuse and, in at least one case, to prevent someone who claims they have been discriminated against from even talking to John as their MP.

But his action in Parliament yesterday were nothing to do with that campaign.

It will come as a shock to virtually no one to find out that Ryan Giggs is the footballer known in court as 'CTB'. Giggs' decision to ask his solicitors to take action against Twitter users was probably the worst legal action since Jonathan Aitken decided to use the 'simple sword of truth' defence to his perjury prosecution.

However there is a second side to the story - the one that you won't read in most of the papers today. Rather than risk legal action myself, I'll refer you to this court judgment where the issue is amply referred to by Mr Justice Eady.

As for the decision to name Giles Coren, it has allowed the newspapers to 'fill in the gaps' on another case. I follow Coren on Twitter and had seen the tweets (now deleted) that appear to have got him into trouble. I wasn't really aware of the case and just regarded it as gossip. But today's Telegraph helpfully fills in all the missing details. All that's missing from their story is the name.

John Hemming's campaign on behalf of children in care and their parents is admirable but his decision in this case is not. I respect him greatly, but would hope he would think more carefully in future.


Tony Bonnici said...

The UK does not have a privacy law as defined by Parliament. It is case law made up by judges based on EU law.The way the judges are interpreting it is as a scoundrels' charter protecting wealthy miscreants from having their wrong doings exposed.Even by its own ruling body footballers are seen as influential figures "bringing the game in to disrepute" being one charge they could face.

They therefore have a duty on and off the pitch to behave in a manner that is of an "above" standard - they're certainly paid enough (and part of that is for their "brand" value to the Club).

This is not a matter of them "protecting" their family life but their reputations in relation to present and future advertising deals. If they wished to protect their "precious" families they should not have given the tabloids excuse to expose them in the first place.

For example if it were ever said such a wholesome figure as Gary Lineker was just a dirty shagger (perish the thought) would Walkers still use him?

If as is suggested in Eady's statement Imogen Thomas had tried to blackmail him - as I think you are eluding to in your reference to it - he could and should have gone to the police.

Beacuse blackmail, like rape, protects the identity of the victim from becoming known. But Ryan Giggs did not. He went to the civil courts......where expensive lawyers can argue their case. Meanwhile our MPs (our ELECTED lawmakers) are left out of this important issue.

Not only that but there are very many real superinjunctions about important topics that are being covered up...... footballers are just the thin end of the wedge. This should not be happening.

Alex Folkes said...

I disagree with the claim that public figures automatically waive their right to privacy or should be held to a 'higher moral standard' simply for being famous. I think that this applies even if they have advertising and sponsorship endorsements based on their 'talent'. It is only when they start to parade their moral values does their private life become of public interest.
I am in no way saying that Giggs was right to do what he did. My post was based on John Hemming's decision to name him in Parliament.
Newspaper columnists and writers need to look to their own circumstances as well. If they write about the transgressions of footballers, they become fair game themselves - viz Andrew Marr. It might even be said that, by commenting as you have, your personal and professional life is open to scrutiny on the same basis as you would see Mr Giggs.

Tony Bonnici said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Bonnici said...

I think people get QUITE enough about my life from my Twitter feed to be fair would they honestly want any more?

But I'll happy bang on about practically everything else for the price of a pint. Open and honest, see?

Plus the fact if I had been shagging Miss Wales you try and shut me up about it...married or not!