No, it’s that super injunction thingy. The one where a footballer cheated on his wife and then tried to use the law to hush it all up. Now he has been named in the MSM south of the border. Why? Because the whole thing became unsustainable. Like Carter Ruck a year or so back, he and the legal system are learning a painful lesson. That in these days of the interwebs, information has a habit of flying about with alarming alacrity. Like a DIY plumber who accidentally shears the wrong bolt, they try to plug the resultant gusher but succeed only in flooding the kitchen. The more they try to stifle the likes of Twitter, the more of the Spartacus effect comes back to bite them. If Ryan Giggs had just taken it on the chin, likely as not, it would have all blown over by now.
That said, I do have some sympathy – well, not for his cheating on his wife – but in general. Just because he is well known it doesn’t follow that his private life should be plastered all over the front pages of the red tops. Some may argue that this is the price of fame and fortune. I don’t buy that. He is famous for kicking a ball about. Outside of that is no one’s business. Giggs, being endowed with plenty of moolah can afford to turn to the law – even if it is ill-advised. Others cannot as they don’t have the wherewithal, so are at the mercy of the press and the prurience of the British public. I recall some years ago the horror of a colleague who found herself “exposed” by the Sun in some sordid little story. Unlike Ryan Giggs or Andrew Marr, she couldn’t turn to the courts to protect her privacy – although by the time she found out about it, the damage had been done.
All of which raises the issue of privacy in the face of a predatory press. Do we need more law? No, that is likely to bring about all sorts of unexpected entirely predictable outcomes. One of those being a Twitter storm. I don’t care overmuch about the Andrew Marrs and the Ryan Giggs of this world as after all, they court media attention, so shouldn’t be too surprised when the rabid beast they fondle bites them on the bum. No, I am much more concerned about people like Faith-Anne Lesbirel and my erstwhile colleague who have done no harm to anyone, and yet have had their private lives exposed for the titillation of the newspaper reading public – and a bit of kinky sex goes down well with the gutter press. I’m not sure what the answer is, as people clearly want to read about a part time dominatrix, presumably along with as much detail as the paper can get away with – all in the name of decency of course. And while people continue to buy the papers and lap up the scandals, the quirky, the kinky and the misbehaved will be exposed for the delectation of the papers’ subscribers, irrespective of whether it is in the public interest to do so. Unless the victim can hit the paper where it really hurts, this will continue.
The question then, oft asked of late, is what is in the public interest and are newspapers confusing this with “interesting to the public”? A part-time dominatrix is clearly the latter. However, the irony of all of this is that Ryan Giggs, by taking out his injunction, made the latter in his case become the former.