Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Was It Something That You Said?

A Premier League footballer fears that if details about his alleged extra-marital affair became public he would be 'booed during games' and 'the subject of cruel chants,' according to a witness statement submitted to the high court. Of course, a lot of Premier League footballers get that sort of treatment anyway, just for instance, for not tracking back quickly enough when caught in possession on the edge of the opposition box and, ultimately, costing their side a goal. To take one example. Or 'being crap' for another. Or missing an open goal or several. So, you know, swings and roundabouts, isn't it? In the witness statement the player - known only at TSE in court papers - said that exposing his personal life would have a 'devastating effect on his marriage, on his wife and particularly their children. He states that it has become common for footballers whose private lives are exposed by the media to be booed during games and be the subject of cruel chants,' the statement added. The footballer and the woman whom he is alleged to have had an affair with obtained the injunction on 16 May – four days after the Sun gave the player's club notice that it intended to expose the alleged affair. On Monday high court judge Mr Justice Tugendhat published the reasons for the gagging order being granted and maintained. The high court also heard on Monday how the footballer's legal team have submitted evidence concerning publication on Twitter which allegedly breach the injunction, as well as in the Sun and Daily Scum Mail newspapers. The written judgment details how a journalist from the Sun went to the woman's home several months ago and said the paper 'would be willing to pay a lot of money' for the story, but she refused. However, Tugendhat pointed out that this case is 'not a case of kiss and tell,' because both parties in the alleged relationship sought the gagging order. 'It is one in which both parties to the past relationship wish to keep it private.' The judge added that the Sun had so far not produced any evidence to show that the gagging order should be lifted in the public interest. The paper had previously argued in a telephone conversation with the claimants' solicitors, Schillings, that it was in the public interest because the paper was 'exposing his hypocrisy.' Tugendhat added: 'No doubt NGN came to appreciate that, in the light of numerous judgments by different judges of the House of Lords, of the court of appeal, of this court and of the European court of human rights, it had no prospect of success.' In the written judgment handed down at the court, Tugendhat said: 'The court does not grant injunctions which would be futile. But the fact that these publications have occurred does not mean that there should be no injunction in this case.' He added that there was 'still something to be achieved by an injunction' even 'once the secret is revealed. In the present case the effort of the publications ... is that private information which was secret is no longer secret. So to that extent one purpose of the injunction has been defeated,' Tugendhat said. 'There is a pressing need for the injunction to prevent harassment and unjustified intrusion into the lives of the claimants and the man's family.' Addressing the recent string of gagging orders taken out against the media, Tugendhat said that there was 'no stereotype' to which they all fit. He pointed out that of those who have taken out injunctions, 'many are women' and 'many of the cases are about information which is not sexual.'

Meanwhile, here is a picture of the Manchester United and Wales footballer Ryan Giggs who was, yesterday, named in the House of Commons by MP John Hemming as having taken out an injunction to prevent the Sun from revealing details of an alleged affair.
John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, yesterday named during a debate on injunction disputes, prompting the House of Commons. 'With about seventy five thousand people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all,' Hemming said during the session. Hemming's decision to name Giggs as the footballer at the heart of the privacy controversy on Twitter dominates coverage in Tuesday's papers. Revealed: Britain's best-known secret is the Independent's assessment and the Sun's editorial states 'freedom wins.' The Daily Scum Mail suggests that MPs sent 'a defiant message to judges' but the Gruniad Morning Star argues that many other MPs were against Hemming's action. Borrowing from Steven Spielberg's war film, the Daily Mirra headlines its coverage Naming Private Ryan. We also get a couple of pages on Coleen Nolan's considered opinion on the case. Whoever the hell she is. The Yorkshire Post's headline is Press couldn’t tackle football's role model with clean-cut image. The story is also covered, in some depth, in the Daily Scum Express, the Herald, the Manchester Evening News, Biggleswade Today, the Warwick Courier, the Belfast Telegraph, the Sunderland Echo, the Journal, the Sydney Morning Herald and Holy Moly!

Giles Coren, the popular restaurant critic and broadcaster who works for The Times, was also identified by Hemming in the Commons as the journalist who 'feared a prison sentence.' Over the weekend, it had been widely reported that 'a famous journalist' could be held in contempt of court after using Twitter to name a footballer who had been granted an injunction. The footballer referred to by Coren was not Ryan Giggs, but another player who has obtained a gagging order. The offending comments were subsequently removed over the weekend. Yesterday, Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, said he had not received any complaint about Coren’s conduct - or anybody elses come to that. Coren is among tens of thousands of people who have apparently broken the terms of a variety of injunctions online.

On a wholly unrelated matter, the high court has refused to overturn a footballer's gagging order despite the player's identity having been widely revealed on Twitter and in a Scottish newspaper over the weekend. On Monday the Sun returned to the high court in an effort to get the controversial privacy injunction lifted, just hours after David Cameron had said on national television that 'everybody knows' who the footballer is. The injunction prevents the media reporting details of the alleged extra-marital affair which the footballer - known only as CTB in court papers - allegedly had with the model and former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas. Mr Justice Eady, the high court judge, dismissed the application after a one-hour hearing. 'To a great extent the same reasoning applies today as it did last week,' he said, despite the footballer's identity being revealed by Twitter users and Scottish newspaper the Sunday Herald. In a written judgment handed down at the high court, Eady said: 'It is fairly obvious that wall-to-wall excoriation in national newspapers, whether tabloid or broadsheet, is likely to be significantly more intrusive and distressing for those concerned than the availability of information on the Internet or in foreign journals to those, however many, who take the trouble to look it up.' Eady denied the court's attempts to protect the identity of the footballer had become 'wholly futile.' He added: 'Moreover, with each exposure of personal information or allegations, whether by way of visual images or verbally, there is a new intrusion and occasion for distress or embarrassment. Mr Tomlinson [Hugh Tomlinson QC, the lawyer acting on behalf of the footballer] argues accordingly that "the dam has not burst." For so long as the court is in a position to prevent some of that intrusion and distress, depending upon the individual circumstances, it may be appropriate to maintain that degree of protection.' Lawyers acting on behalf of shy, retiring, publicity-avoiding Ms Thomas (see left), with whom the footballer is alleged to have had an affair and who is fighting alongside the Sun to get the injunction lifted, claimed that the injunction battle had become about 'the dignity of the court.' Eady immediately interrupted, declaring: 'This is not about the dignity of the court.' Which, some might argue is, in and of itself, inherently undignified. Representing the Sun, Richard Spearman QC told the court that when the paper made its original application to lift the order last week the publication of the identity of the claimant had not reached such a level that keeping the privacy injunction in place was futile. He added: 'Today this has moved on very dramatically.' Spearman described the footballer's legal action against Twitter as 'an own goal - nice football metaphor, there pal! - which has 'significantly increased the amount of interest in the case [as well as] the number of people revealing the identity of the claimant on Internet sites.' However, Tomlinson [acting on behalf of the footballer] contested that this made 'no difference whatever' and that the fact that Twitter users had allegedly named the footballer was 'completely different to the level of intrusion [that would be subjected to the footballer] if the injunction was lifted.' In a written ruling, Eady steadfastly refused to concede that privacy injunctions had 'ceased to serve any useful purpose in the age of the Internet.' The judge said: 'Parliament may, at some stage, wish to change the law and make specific provision in the light of these developments, but in the meantime the courts are obliged to apply the law as it currently stands.' He added: 'Today this has moved on very dramatically.'

Two former cabinet minsters, a police chief and a journalist are to mount a judicial review into the Metropolitan police's handling of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. The former deputy prime minister, Lord Prescott, Labour MP Chris Bryant, ex-Scotland Yard boss Brian Paddick and freelance journalist Brendan Montague claim the police deliberately misled them in 2006 over evidence their mobile phones had been hacked. At a hearing at the high court on Monday, Mr Justice Foskett reversed an earlier refusal to let the claimants seek a judicial review into the police's conduct. He said Prescott, Bryant and Paddick 'each has an arguable case' for believing the police breached their human rights. Foskett added that although he was 'not truly persuaded' that Montague had an 'arguable claim,' he would allow the journalist's application to proceed for 'pragmatic reasons.' The court had heard claims that the Met told Prescott repeatedly that he was not a victim of hacking despite having evidence his voicemail had been intercepted forty five times by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was at the time working for the News of the World. Bryant claimed that police told him there was 'no evidence' his phone had been hacked despite knowing Mulcaire had kept notes on him, including a list of twenty three numbers which made calls to his mobile phone – information which could have been obtained only by hacking his voicemail. The police only told Paddick that Mulcaire had written his name, rank and address on one piece of paper when they knew the investigator had listed him on his computer as 'a project' and collected phone details for him, his partner, his former partner and numerous associates. At proceedings earlier this month, Hugh Tomlinson QC, who represents the four men, said their claims rested on the 'lawfulness' of the Met's failure to tell the men they were victims of hacking despite being 'aware of what was going on.' Tomlinson - who was clearly a busy man yesterday (see above) - also claimed police failed to respond adequately to his clients' requests for information and failed to carry out an effective investigation.The Met has acknowledged that there were 'some operational shortcomings' in their handling of the case. But it has claimed some victims were not told there was clear evidence of their messages being intercepted because that evidence was not available until very recently. Foskett explained that he was reversing the earlier refusal to allow the claimants to pursue a judicial review because the fresh police investigation into the scandal, Operation Weeting, had produced significant new evidence to support their claims.

Wins by Sherlock and The Only Way Is Essex helped BBC1's BAFTA awards coverage to its biggest audience since 2008. The annual awards ceremony hosted by Graham Norton averaged 5.36 million viewers, a twenty two per cent audience share between 8pm and 10pm on Sunday evening, according to overnight figures. It was up on the 4.14 million who watched last year's BAFTA ceremony, and the 4.3 million who watched in 2009, but was unable to top the 5.6 million audience from 2008. The BAFTAs just had the edge over the last episode of ITV's crime drama Vera, which came to the end of its four-part run with 5.3 million viewers, also between 8pm and 10pm, rising to five and a half million million when timeshift channel ITV+1 was taken into account. But neither show could quite match the ratings appeal of BBC1's Countryfile, which was the most watched show of the night across any channel with 6.11 million viewers between 7pm and 8pm on BBC1.

Steve Coogan has confirmed that he is thinking about making another series of The Trip. Speaking to the Digital Spy website before Sunday night's British Academy Television Awards, Coogan explained that he has been talking to his Trip co-star Rob Brydon and to director Michael Winterbottom about the possibility of a second series. However, Coogan explained that he will only make another series if they can think of 'a good enough idea.' Coogan also confirmed that the long-awaited Alan Partridge movie is currently being written and will be made next year.

Frankie Boyle struggled when he appeared on Have I Got News For You because he underestimated the audience, Paul Merton has claimed. The long-standing team captain said Boyle 'sweated and looked uncomfortable' when his bad-taste gags went down badly with the studio audience. And he said much of Boyle's offensive material was cut out of the final broadcast because he 'didn't look good' on the show. In an interview with the Daily Torygraph, Merton said: 'Comedians have come on from Mock the Week and they forget that we have a different audience. A brighter audience, dare I say. 'One of them made a joke about Josef Fritzl but the audience didn't like it and he started sweating a lot and looked uncomfortable.' When the interviewer asked if it was Frankie Boyle, Merton confirmed that it was: 'We got a call from his agent on the Monday saying we had cut all his best material. But we did him a favour. He didn't look good.' Boyle appeared on Merton’s team in both December 2006 and May 2008.

Miranda Hart has explained why the new series of Miranda will not be broadcast until next year. Hart explained that it takes a long time to put the show together. '[It's] mainly because I has got to write it,' she noted. 'We only finished the second series at the end of December. It just takes that while to come up with ideas, have a little bit of a break and see the world to get inspiration.' Hart also revealed that she only began thinking about the new episodes 'a couple of weeks ago' and joked that if she did have any ideas it would be 'classified information.' Subject to a superinjunction, no doubt.

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks has opened up about her 'hellish experiences' at the hands of childhood bullies. The actress admits she was 'a bit of a Goth' in her younger years, and her wacky dress sense and love of acting alienated her from her classmates. Hendricks is adamant the atmosphere at her 'mean' school was so tribal it reminded her of William Golding's classic novel Lord of the Flies. She tells You magazine, 'I went to a very mean school and was bullied like crazy. I was a bit of a Goth with purple hair and I was also part of the drama group, which was filled with actors and writers and wasn't really accepted by the rest of the school. There was a long corridor with lockers on either side and kids would sit on top of them and spit on you. It was like something out of Lord of the Flies, but if I learned anything it was to remain true to myself and not to conform for the sake of it.'

Milton Jones has performed a stand-up routine for a field of cows, in a publicity stunt for cheese. The gig in the Herfordshire farm was presented as an experiment in whether the animals can laugh, organised by the makers of Laughing Cow. The Mock The Week star told jokes such as: 'So you cows say you’re vegetarians – but how come you all wear leather, eh?' and 'Went to one of those farmers markets the other day – bought two farmers...' Milton said: 'Writing comedy for cows was very different to my day job but a comedian plays to his audience, so I wrote a raft of new material to really get under their hides. It went a lot better than I thought it would. I think I made them laugh. I enjoyed it.' Cow expert Bruce Woodacre monitored the cows' reaction – and although to the untrained eye they might have appeared indifferent, he claimed that they were somehow reacting to the English wordplay. 'That one is showing clear signs of amusement,' he said singling out one of the herd. Although he conceded that cows don't laugh like humans he pointed to, 'the position of its ears, its' rate of breathing, things like that, which could well be interpreted as laughter.' He also claimed one of the cows was a heckler who 'doesn’t think Milton is funny at all.' Pfft. No taste, these cows.

Hugh Laurie hated piano lessons so much as a boy, he embarked on a hunger strike in protest. The House actor is now an accomplished musician who plays guitar, drums, harmonica and saxophone, but admits he resorted to extreme measures when he was forced to enrol in piano classes. He told the BBC, 'I did have piano lessons, very briefly. I loathed it. I insisted on giving it up. In fact, I actually went on hunger strike. I didn't eat for three or four days. When you're ten, that's rather a long time.'

Ofcom has ruled that Iran's state-run Press TV is responsible for a serious breach of UK broadcasting rules and could face a fine for broadcasting an interview with Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist arrested covering the Iranian presidential election in 2009, which was obtained by force while he was held in a Tehran jail. In July 2009 Press TV, which has a bureau in West London, broadcast what it claimed was an interview with Bahari following his arrest in the previous month, days after he had filed a report to Channel Four News and Newsweek about an attack in Tehran during a post-election demonstration. The UK media regulator has been investigating the complaint by Bahari, who spent one hundred and eighteen days in jail, since last summer. In its ruling on the complaint published on Monday, Ofcom said it regards the breaches to be of 'a serious nature' and is now considering if the case 'warrants the imposition of a sanction.' Bahari lodged a complaint with Ofcom in December 2009 which said the 'interview' had been made 'under duress,' after he was told by an interrogator that he was suspected of espionage and could face the death penalty unless he made 'a televised statement about the role of the western media in the post-presidential election demonstrations.' He was interviewed by three Iranian broadcasters, including Press TV, reading answers pre-prepared by his captors from a script. The footage from the 'press conference' was broadcast in the UK by Press TV. 'Mr Bahari said that it would have been clear to all the broadcasters that he was giving the interview under duress,' according to Ofcom's ten-page ruling - which constituted a jolly good, harsh, chastisement. Simons, Muirhead & Burton, the legal firm which represented Bahari, complained to Ofcom that they had been 'treated unfairly and that his privacy was unwarrantably infringed in the making and broadcast of the programme.' The complaint also said that Press TV did not seek Bahari's permission to film and broadcast the interview. Press TV denied the interview was biased, saying Bahari did not 'dispute the truth and accuracy' of the extract of the interview it broadcast, so it made 'no logical sense' to claim it required his consent. The broadcaster also said its policy was not to accept 'scripted' interview questions from any third party or to 'put pressure on an individual to give an interview or continue recording if an individual requested the recording to stop.' In summary Ofcom said Press TV's presentation of Bahari was unfair because it 'omitted material facts and was placed in a context in which inferences adverse to Mr Bahari could be drawn.' The media regulator also said that Press TV failed to get his consent and this 'contributed to the overall unfairness to Mr Bahari in the item broadcast.' Ofcom added that filming and broadcasting the interview without consent 'while he was in a sensitive situation and vulnerable state was an unwarranted infringement of Mr Bahari's privacy.'

US President Barack Obama's visit to Dublin caused unexpected laughter yesterday when his car got stuck at the embassy gates. While leaving the embassy, the bottom of Obama's car caught on the ramp as it drove out of the gates, producing a loud metallic sound and causing the car to become stuck. Nicknamed The Beast, the President's personal transport is renowned for its supposed bomb-proof design. Obama's security quickly checked to discover the cause of the problem, before security vehicles drove in to block the public's view of the incident. 'I think it was really the comedy of it,' one onlooker told BBC News. 'There was so much drama with the guys in the secret service, and for them to come out at the final moment and we were expected to wave - and to hear the big bang!' She added: 'I think there was a degree of shock.' Obama's car later left the embassy via a different gate to cheering from the amused onlookers.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day has the honour of being an Oscar winner, a twenty-four carat classic and suffering the single worst cover version massacre in the history of records (just one of many crimes against humanity committed by Sting). From The Thomas Crown Affair, here's Noel Harrison.

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