Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Freedom of speech extends to sordid kiss-and-tells

Kiss-and-tell stories are a disagreeable mainstay of red-top journalism in today’s Britain. They reflect badly on the parties involved but also on the public’s appetite for such tales, as well as the newspapers who barrel-scrape to feed it.
You can’t blame a famous actor – codename him NEJ – wanting to prevent an unsavoury dalliance with a prostitute – call her BDZ - splashed across the newspapers. Unless, of course, you believe it’s always open season on celebrities and that they have no privacy rights.
NEJ, who is married and a father, was only able to avoid shameful headlines by having the courts slap a temporary gagging order on the media at the weekend preventing him being named.
The terms of the injunction were relaxed today.
NEJ preserved his anonymity but BDZ was revealed to be 23-year-old Helen Wood, who last year said she and another prostitute had a three-in-a-bed romp with football star Wayne Rooney. His wife Coleen was pregnant at the time - happily their marriage survived.
My objection is the way the courts are suppressing the rights to freedom of speech by the backdoor in protecting well-heeled transgressors who can afford expensive lawyers. It would be different if Parliament had acted to tame kiss-and-tell revelations. This would then have the sanction of being democratically framed legislation.
The latest celebrity injunction brings the recent tally to around thirty. The worry is judges are making up new privacy rules for themselves. They are protecting lascivious stars now but it is the thin end of the wedge. Soon it could be, say drug or oil companies seeking protection in the courts to keep health hazards secret.
So while I have some sympathy for NEJ, the greater good – the freedom of speech – demands his injunction and the rest are lifted until the law is changed. When it is, super-injunctions – where even mention of the existence of an injunction is prohibited – mustn’t find a way on to the statute books.


  1. Let's have personal privacy laws for all of us except where witholding the information could be a danger to the general public.

  2. It rhymes with Pooing McBeggar


What do you think? GC