Thursday, April 28, 2011

Who Was That Masked Man? Or, What's So Super About Injunctions?

Four celebrities hiding - some might suggest cowering like scared dogs - behind so-called superinjunctions to prevent details of their private lives being made public have been named on Wikipedia. Users of the online encyclopedia - which, of course, allows anyone to edit it - have published details of the gagging orders on the profiles of a series of public figures who may, or may not be the individuals concerned in these matters. Although the site's moderators quickly removed all of the postings, several have kept reappearing - up to ten times on one of the celebrities' profiles. Which proves, at the very least, that those making such claims are determined little buggers, if nothing else. The allegations also continue to appear in the history of the relevant pages if you know what you're looking for. Which, of course, this blogger does not. Oh, no. Just want to make that abundantly clear. I just report the news, dear blog reader. Or, in this particular case, the lack of it. Wikipedia, which has over four hundred million readers, has said that it will consider locking the pages involved if posters repeatedly try to publish the (as yet, of course, unproven) allegations. This would limit those allowed to edit the pages in question but, as a consequence, it would also likely draw attention to whom the individuals concerned actually are. The identity of the Premier League footballer who, allegedly, had an affair with the Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas became secret after he gained his injunction at the High Court two weeks ago. The allegations were reported by several newspapers to have been introduced more than ten times onto the Wikipedia page of one particular Premier League player, who may (or may not) be the person who took out the injunction, despite the best efforts of moderators. According to the Daily Scum Mail one user wrote: '[He has] lost his discipline and had [sic] been playing away from home with non [sic] other than Imogen Thomas from Big Brother.' Yeah, you might want to use a spell-checker next time. The paragraph was soon removed but a series of variation have continued to appear - and disappear - with monotonous regularity throughout the last forty eight hours. Meanwhile, the 'high-profile' actor - identified in court only by the initials NEJ - is alleged to have had sex with Helen Wood, the same prostitute who was widely reported to have slept with Wayne Rooney in 2010. The Scum Mail reveals that one user wrote under the charity section of the actor's Wikipedia profile page that he was a 'patron [of a] prostitute in the Manchester area.' Another contributor apparently changed the actor's middle name to 'Super–injunction' whilst yet another added to the actor's education section 'he enjoys the company of "ladies of the night" and super injunctions.' Someone whom the Scum Mail describes as 'a TV star' - known at ETK in count papers - whose 'celebrity mistress' (known only as X) was 'sacked from her job' after the TV star's wife discovered their affair was also one of those allegedly exposed. The newspaper claims that one entry on the man's Wikipedia page stated: 'In April 2011 it was revealed that [the man] was the subject of an injunction banning newspapers from naming him as ETK, the entertainer having an affair.' Another alleged: '[ETK's] sex-affair with [X] has now become subject of a controversial super-injunction. As widely reported all over the Internet.' The fourth celebrity targeted on Wikipedia is a 'television presenter' - said by the newspaper to be 'a household name' and identified by the initials AMM - who took out an injunction last October to stop his ex–wife (HMX) from alleging, publicly, that they'd had an affair after he had remarried. Comments on one individual's Wikipedia profile hinted that he may have obtained such an injunction - and provided a link to an article recently published in Private Eye which had made a similar implication. These were also immediately taken down by moderators on the website. Media lawyers said that the disclosure of the men's identities on the Internet - even if only temporarily - sounded the 'death knell' for privacy injunctions. 'These orders are increasingly redundant because their names are all over Wikipedia and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook,' said Niri Shan, head of media law at the legal firm Taylor Wessing. 'Because many of these websites are abroad the injunctions are unenforceable.' The postings come as debate rages over the use of injunctions, with lawyers and commentators arguing that they are redundant in the age of websites where anyone can post the names of those hiding behind such gagging orders. Or, at least, those whom they believe, or have heard rumours that they are, hiding behind such gagging orders. Even BBC presenter Andrew Marr, who himself won a gagging order in 2008 preventing the details of his extra-marital affair from being made public, this week said that injunctions were 'out of control' and called for a 'proper sense of proportion' in these type of injunction cases. A spokesman for Wikipedia said that although the site was based in the USA and therefore not bound by injunctions in British courts, it would continue to remove any further allegations posted on the profiles in question. 'The servers are based in the US so Wikipedia is not liable. Our material has to be really well-referenced or it is chucked out immediately.'

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 3 of the Day is from Van Morrison and is rather appropriate.