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Day: May 23, 2011

John Hemming MP names Ryan Giggs and by doing so abuses his Parliamentary Privilege

As I wrote yesterday the footballer involved in the injunction case against Imogen Thomas was a fool. Twitter is widely used but to say it has the audience of the majority of people in the UK is foolish. By suing twitter for allowing his name to be mentioned it brought the story into the mainstream domain and it was only a matter of time before a big media outlet thought ‘sod it’ and named him. The Sunday Herald yesterday did not but had a photograph of Ryan Giggs on the front page and made it clear who it was.

So we move on just over 24 hours and John Hemming Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley used Parliamentary Privilege to name him and suddenly the gates are wide open. Sky News are reporting the incident plus his name whereas the BBC are still trying to clarify where they stand legally reporting on House of Commons proceedings.

Now I am torn. I am a trained journalist (I know can you believe it with my lack of English skills?) and had to pass Journalism Law to get said degree. Therefore I know all about Contempt of Court and what was going on with this. On one hand I think that Imogen Thomas can sell her story to the highest bidder as long as whatever she sells is the truth but I also respect the right for Ryan Giggs to have his privacy on this case. So it is a case of who has the greater right – Thomas to sell her story or Giggs for his right to privacy. They are mutually exclusive and clearly in my mind cancel each other out.

There was talk that Imogen Thomas was blackmailing Ryan Giggs and that is why the injunction was granted. This though is not backed up by any steadfast evidence as yet. What I do struggle with is the fact that Ryan Giggs was absolved from the case but Imogen Thomas and her representatives including Max Clifford were allowed to be reported. So Imogen Thomas had her name out there with regards to the affair, she was unable to defend herself in any way in a public setting. So Ryan Giggs was letting her dangle as some harlot whilst he hid behind an injunction.

I am deeply torn. Deeply and gravely torn. I think when all is said and done the injunction was fairly granted but the way Ryan Giggs has handled the situation shows a lack of nous and understanding for the way the public feel. The moment his name was out there he should have dropped the injunction and dealt with the fall out. Continuing to go further and starting proceedings against twitter was never going to go down well and if his advisors didn’t tell him this then they are just thinking about their self-interest and making money off of the Manchester United player.

I do think that John Hemming has abused Parliamentary Privilege as this case is not a story that is in the legitimate Public Interest. It is celebrity tittle-tattle and this is not a Trafigura situation. When it comes down to it unless there is a case where you could say that a story is in the Public and/or National Interest then the right to privacy is at least level to that of freedom of speech and therefore injunctions should be allowed.

Still though Ryan Giggs has been terribly advised and instead of being front page for a day or two and then chip shop paper he has allowed the story to run and run and has dragged his name through the mud for far longer than it ever would have done.

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ID cards? You what coalition government? Come again…? I thought we’d all decided they were a naff idea.

Over in the Technology section of The Telegraph the headline story is one sure to repulse the majority of this nation. As a country we pretty much said rather loudly that we hated the ID Card scheme and we rejoiced when the coalition agreement took one look at it and chuckled before consigning it to history in May 2010. Twelve months on though and they are working behind the scenes to bring in a new ID Card system that the government themselves won’t police but a small number of private firms will – yes folks that is exactly what people want – yugh.

The headline Coalition builds new national identity system sends a shiver down my spine. Francis Maude is the Cabinet Office minister responsible for the cross-government plan and he has dubbed it ‘identity assurance’. Well Francis I can certainly say I’m placated by using a new term. I’m so thick that’ll wash with me as laud your most excellent proposals. It isn’t an ID Card scheme but we’ll all have one central ID login – like say an ID Card – that if fraudsters managed to get hold off instead of screwing us over for one thing, they can screw us over for everything.

There is a reason we don’t have passwords the same for any websites and there is a reason we have separate logins for everything we do. It is called security and if you want to by-pass that to save a few quid then you sir are a numpty. However you cannot take the full blame here as birthday boy George Osbourne thinks that it is a swell idea. Shouldn’t he be concentrating on more important things and does he really think that this will soften the blow of spending cuts? Yeah that is what he said folks. The people of this country will think that thank fuck there will be less police officers on the street when you have a nice central system that would be like a gold mine to fraudsters. We’ll whoop and holler in the street and chant George Osbourne’s name. We might even overthrow the Monarchy to install George Osbourne as President for he is so wise.

What’s that? I’m sounding like I’m taking the mickey? Oh…

National Identity Schemes are bad. The system that Labour proposed was downright dangerous. This system from what little we know might not be as dangerous but looks like it might not be too far off. The people of this country do not want a National Identity Scheme and that is clear. Neither the Tories or the Lib Dems had any type of scheme in their manifesto pledges so if this one sees the light of day then I’ll be extremely disappointed, not wait, scratch that, I’ll be disgusted with the powers that be in this government. Do not poo poo an idea and then quietly do something very similar twelve months down the line. The country hasn’t changed in twelve months so why has policy?

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