With all sorts of public figures from football players to bank managers using them recently, the injunction and super injunction have come under intense public scrutiny. Coinciding with all this media interest, a review of their use, or overuse, has been conducted by a committee of top judges and libel lawyers.
Lord Neuberger, chair of the committee, is expected to recommend that the media should be allowed to attend injunction hearings in the future.
Injunctions are gagging orders that prevent the media reporting details of people’s private lives, and super-injunctions are so secretive that their very existence cannot be revealed.
The media claim that the overuse of injunctions will damage freedom of speech in the UK, but judges feel that a balance must be struck between freedom of the press and privacy.
But following the recent partial lift of an injunction given to Sir Fred Goodwin, the former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the injunction is under review.
Sir Goodwin sought an injunction to cover up his alleged relationship with a senior colleague. Details of this were revealed in the House of Lords on Thursday (19 May) under parliamentary privilege, since Lib Dem peer Lord Stoneham felt the information was of public interest.
The injunction had previously been made public in Parliament when Lib Dem MP John Hemming spoke of it in March. He said that since Sir Fred Goodwin was considered by many to be partly responsible for the recent RBS crisis, if any of his actions such as his relationship could have affected the bank’s performance, the public had a right to know.
Lord Neuberger’s report, the result of a year-long inquiry, is expected to allow press access to injunction hearings but will still ensure restrictions are in place to protect anonymity.
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