Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Super Injunction Law Needs Reforming

The John Terry story gets more lurid by the day. According to the Sunday Mirror, he got Wayne Bridge's girlfriend pregnant and then arranged for her to have an abortion. In addition, he allegedly lied to Bridge when confronted about the affair. The non football fans among you will already be questioning why I am writing about this on a political blog. Well, it's because there are many legal and public interest implications arising from this story.

Public opinion is being polarised between those who think that a man with the morals of an alley cat should be dropped from the England team and be sacked as captain, and those who think that these issues have nothing to do with his football playing ability and his position shouldn't be affected. Until today I thought he could ride out the storm and keep his position, but if the Mirror revelations are true, I think it materially alters things.

The key here is the attitude of Wayne Bridge himself. Could he really play in the same team as Terry in the future? The Sunday Telegraph reckons that Fabio Capello will leave the decision to Bridge. If he says no, Terry will be sacked as Captain. But what happens if he says he can't even be in the same squad? It is almost unthinkable that John Terry would be dropped from the World Cup squad altogether. His talismanic status is legendary and there's no doubt that he possesses leadership skills many of his teammates simply do not. I am afraid the fact is that John Terry is more important to the team than Wayne Bridge, and Bridge knows that. If Capello does leave the decision to him, it will be interesting to see which way his decision falls. Interestingly, none of their teammates have spoken out. That's not a surprise, but Capello will no doubt be taking soundings from some of the senior players.

John Terry, of course, tried his best to ensure that none of us knew any of the details of what he has got up to. He deployed a Super Injunction, but ultimately it fell to pieces. A new government must look at the law in this area. The rich and famous should not be able to use the law in ways which are no topen to the rest of us. Super Injunctions appear to be used by celebrities to invoke a privacy law by the back door. I know of at least two other cases - one involving a footballer and one involving a media personality - which fall into this category.

I hope politicians and lawyers will examine this aspect of the law, and question whether it should now be reformed.

20 comments:

javelin said...

Iain, the children must come first here. Even if John Terry is a two timing, lying sleazebag his children should be protected from ridicule. As adults we have a responsibility to protect them, even if it means losing the world cup. He should step down if he loves his kids v

The Lakelander said...

Following the revelations about John Terry, I see that the England football team badge has been re-designed

Sunder Katwala said...

Iain,

Are you sure you aren't going a bit Turnip Taliban? If you strongly argued that an affair with a future political colleague is irrelevant to whether somebody should be a Tory MP, then should "having the morals of an alleycat" have anything to do with Fabio Capello's decisions? (I take the point there is a team management issue).

But we know what Tory policy is on John Terry ... give that man a tax break!

And explicitly argued as a 'signal' that one approves of his (private life) choice to get married.

Gareth said...

"His talismanic status is legendary and there's no doubt that he possesses leadership skills many of his teammates simply do not. I am afraid the fact is that John Terry is more important to the team than Wayne Bridge, and Bridge knows that."

Terry's leadership stemmed from the respect of his peers. Surely that has gone up in a puff of smoke now.

Unsworth said...

I'm sorry, but it takes two. This woman has apparently made herself out to be an innocent party. But was she actually forced to do any of this?

Lurid it may be, salacious even. But I really don't care about Terry and who or what he might have been impregnating. I actually don't care about his footballing 'prowess' either. However I certainly do care about the use of extreme laws simply to silence comment.

Terry, like most wealthy individuals, is prepared to spend some of his huge amounts of cash to hide his embarrassment. That's a measure of the man, a real indication of his character. Why do these people believe that they are so valuable to society that their affairs (advisedly!) should be shrouded in a secrecy not available to those who are less well paid?

Simon Gardner said...

"Public opinion is being polarised between those who think that a man with the morals of an alley cat should be dropped from the England team and be sacked as captain, and those who think that these issues have nothing to do with his football playing ability and his position shouldn't be affected."

You seem to have forgotten the vital third way: Those who couldn’t give a **** and have no interest in football either.

Paddy Briggs said...

Iain

During my time with Shell at least three of its CEOs had affairs with their secretaries and left their wives for a “younger” model. The morals down the line were a bit better but there were innumerable “bits on the” side and plenty of Alley Cat behaviour. At a pensioner reunion one of my ex colleagues whispered to me that he had “bonked” the wives of at least three people present during various overseas postings.


Terry is a prat, but no more so than my ex colleagues and my ex CEOs. The difference is that, like Tiger Woods, he is daily in the public eye. I thought that my Shell colleagues were reptiles but I respected their business skills and enjoyed working with them as professional colleagues. All of them were middle class, privileged by high remuneration and pillars of the Shell communities within which they worked. They were also good at their jobs. But then so is John Terry!

Unsworth said...

@ Paddy Briggs

"During my time with Shell at least three of its CEOs had affairs with their secretaries and left their wives for a “younger” model."

Well, over 37 years that's not such a bad record then. Why does one's employer/employment come into the debate, anyway? Terry's personal behaviour is nothing to do with his employment - or is it suggested that somehow footballers are 'different'? Perhaps they are...

Anna said...

I agree with the whole 'Super Injunctions' disarray. If you put yourself in the public domain, and thereby derive your income, you can't then elect to keep areas of your life private just because they might attract censure and affect your income. Nor should corporations, extremists, politicians etc. be able to hide behind them.

However, far as he may be from my own political views, I do have to agree with the first paragraph of Sunder Katwala's post. You absolutely can't say that John Terry is any worse than Liz Truss.... their alleycat morals differ only in degree.

NameHere said...

I think it is right that a media personality can use a super injunction to protect his privacy. What right do we have to talk about his private life, relationships or the size of his ears?

Thomas Rossetti said...

"...law in ways which are no topen to the rest of us."

Needs changing. Only trying to help.

Glyn H said...

I had no idea who Mr Terry was until this story broke; football having gone from common and vulgar to the game of choice for New Labour lower middle class upwardly mobile now-the-establishment types to prove their working class credentials. However one cannot apply a moralistic approach to footballers and not politicians. Humans need sex (or most do) to varying degrees and this ludicrous religion inspired idea that one should only have sexual relations with one person and inside a marriage and for life has caused huge misery for mankind for more than a thousand years. As has celibacy for catholic priests. It has its place but should be optional - as was the case long ago when there were married popes. There would have been a deal less arousing small boys had that been the case.

However 'Super Injunctions' are a menace; not causing embarrassment to the government or to rich men is no reason for the law to be ‘bought’ in this way and the objectionable practioners of this things, notably Carter-Ruck and Schillings are a disgrace to the profession of solicitor – who are technically ‘Officers of the Court’ and should abide therefore to a code of conduct which would not allow such abuse. This needs attention by the next administration along with Russian crooks and big pharmaceutical companies abusing our libel laws.

Scary Mary said...

Morals of an alleycat?? She was single. He was married. John Major ragged Edwina Currie whilst they were both married. What does that say about him?
Donald Dewar had his wife nicked by Lord Irvine. He still got to be Lord Chancellor.

Libertarian said...

Iain Dale

You are a hypocrite of the highest order.

You argued entirely the opposite when two of your "team mates" Truss and Field were at it.

Shame on you

Iain Dale said...

I did not such thing. Clearly your memory is playing tricks. I don't recall there being a super injunction.

As I thought I made clear, I think it is unthinkable for John Terry not to go to the World Cup.

"It is almost unthinkable that John Terry would be dropped from the World Cup squad altogether. His talismanic status is legendary and there's no doubt that he possesses leadership skills many of his teammates simply do not. I am afraid the fact is that John Terry is more important to the team than Wayne Bridge, and Bridge knows that."

So what exactly is your point?

WC-H said...

Whilst I agree that privacy law needs a tidy-up as regards super-injunctions, I don't think I agree that this is of any 'public interest' at all. It might be a story 'of interest to the public' - but that's not the same thing as being in the public interest.

What exactly does the public gain, excepting the voyeuristic element of this, from knowing about this story?

Northampton Saint said...

Would we be having the same media feeding frenzy if it was Steve Borthwick?

It's daft realy, it would be a dead story now if Terry hadn't gone with the injunction

James said...

Not caring at all about football, I'm with Simon Gardner in the "no interest in him or his career" camp. The aspect I do care very much about is the abuse of the legal system to silence inconvenient revelations - something the legal system shouldn't even contemplate. In my book, any lawyer asking a court to suppress true information should be sanctioned for it, unless the information was in confidence or a matter of national security.

If revealing that this guy has the morals of an MP is damaging to his career, that's his problem - unless the allegations were false, the courts should never have become involved in the first place. More importantly, the meta-injunction which keeps the injunction itself secret is far too open to abuse; even in matters of national security I can see no valid justification for keeping the restriction itself secret.

jojoko said...

So two people had an affair, one of whom is well known. I can't see anything illegal or unlawful or that doesn't happen everyday. In the meantime, 6 rugby players are being investigated on rape allegations, and another rugby player is reportedly due to lose the sight in one eye due to gouging. Terry has betrayed his wife, you'd think from the reaction he had betrayed his country by spying for the taliban. It's no one's business except for those involved, Terry, his wife, Bridge and his ex-girlfriend. Everytime the World Cup comes round the Murdoch press does its best to demoralise the team and country. As for super injunctions, don't worry about them because soon the EU will pass a privacy law that covers all the individual member states and the injuctions will be a thing of the past.

Tom Paine said...

Try replacing;

"John Terry, of course, tried his best to ensure that none of us knew any of the details of what he has got up to."

with

"John Terry, of course, tried his best to ensure that matters only relevant to his wife and himself were not exploited by the media to the detriment of his family and his business."

I don't care about some footballer's personal collection of WAGs. The only interesting phenomenon here is the hypocrisy of a louche society using trace elements of its lost morality to justify an immoral, prurient interest in others' private lives.

For shame.