Monday, 23 May 2011

Dear Mr Obama about the Ryan Giggs affair...

Dear President Obama,
I hope you get a chance to enjoy a full English breakfast tomorrow now that you've arrived early in London. But apart from The Times I suggest you give our national newspapers a miss.
You’ll find that instead of analysing the prospects for your historic visit, developments in the injunction linked to the alleged affair between Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs and former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas command our front pages.
Yes, the situation is farcical. But what looked like might be another cheating soccer star scandal - over and forgotten in a week - has snowballed, raising serious issues of freedom of speech, both at home and abroad.
In the first place Giggs was ill-advised by his lawyers to seek an injunction forbidding mention of his name in the media when the same protection wasn’t extended to Thomas.
Judges in the High Court made the law look an ass by maintaining they had any power over foreign-based blogs and social media when it became clear Giggs’s name was all over the internet. Suing Twitter was a monumental miscalculation and infuriated neutrals.
Despite their frustration the British media kept – just – within the injunction order until LibDem MP John Hemming used Parliamentary privilege to name Giggs in the Commons today.
Just an hour earlier, the gagging ban had been upheld by the High Court. Hence the reason the full attention of our newspapers has been diverted from your visit.
Please don’t think too badly of us. While America has the reputation of being a country where it is more difficult for the rich and powerful to bury embarrassing secrets than it is in the UK, I sure with your legal background you will have come across instances where attempts have been made to do so.
You’ll agree individuals’ right to privacy shouldn’t be proportionate to their wealth. British lawmakers need to overhaul the injunction process and replace it with a system of checks and balances fit for the 21st century.
Yours respectfully,


  1. Because the internet is global, it would take global agreement and internationally recognized legal 'checks and balances' for what you call for to have any chance of success. [Jaffa]

  2. Hemming also named the journalist who is reported to have revealed the name of the footballer,[revealing the name of that journalist immediately after naming the footballer.] At that point he was severely interrupted by the House of Commons Speaker and not allowed to speak further. Apparently, and depending on the circumstances, uttering a person's name even in The Commons, [particularly an MP's name] can be considered disobediant to the chair and therefore subject to a ban from the House.

  3. You mean Giles Coren. To my knowledge no action has been taken against Hemming or Coren; Bercow was doing his job.

  4. Thomas did not get protection, but she did get [perhaps welcome] publicity. Ultimately, Giggs also did not get protection; and he too got [perhaps unwelcome] publicity.


What do you think? GC