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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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7 Comments

  1. James Berry James Berry

    Hi Neil

    I think the MP in this case was a disgrace. Parliamentary privilege is just that, a privilege. It shouldn’t be used to reveal the name of footballers who played away.

    As for the case itself, things have moved on a bit since you wrote this yesterday with the Guardian obtaining a copy of the Injunction granted by Mr Justice Eady. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/interactive/2011/may/24/privacy-superinjunctions1) One of the uneasy points about this case was that Imogen Thomas was in the public domain whilst Giggs remained in the private. Eady deals with this at point 13.

    Like it or not the Human Rights Act gives people a right to privacy and I don’t think you can argue in anyway that this story was in the public interest.

  2. Broderick Harper Broderick Harper

    “Mr Hemming is not doing this solely to ‘out’ celebrities,he is doing it to safeguard the rights of everyone”

    Fantastic news!! Except that is for Ryan Giggs and his family

    Giggs is a footballer, who the last 15 or so years has hardly made any public appearances and certainly hasn’t exploited his position as one of the world’s best footballers

    This idiot of an MP has no right to name and shame in such a manner

  3. admin admin

    Yes he used his parliamentary privilege but in by doing so is he doing it in the Public Interest? Is naming Ryan Giggs Public Interest worthy or is it anything apart from using what he has to make a name for himself and score some points and sticking two fingers up to the courts?

    Yes it is only right that he can use free speech in parliament but when it comes to something so salacious (is that a word?) that it is not in the PI I’d certainly say it was abuse.

    Freedom of Speech and the Right to Privacy are both in the Human Right Act that we are signed up to. In some situations they are mutally exclusive and that is where the debate begins.

  4. David Chapman David Chapman

    Oh and i think you’ll find he didn’t ‘abuse’ his parliamentary priveledge…he enacted it,something as an MP he had a right to do and one that is safeguarded within parliamentary law.

  5. David Chapman David Chapman

    In the wider spectrum the reasons for John challenging super-injunctions is with regards to cases such as Vicki Haigh who had to flee the country after being threatened with arrest by Doncaster council for speaking to her MP and in parliament itself after an ‘injunction’ was placed upon her not to discuss what was happening with regards to her unborn child being stolen by authorities,something these ‘super-injunctions’ allow authorities to do unchallenged.
    Mr Hemming is not doing this solely to ‘out’ celebrities,he is doing it to safeguard the rights of everyone to a fair and open hearing and not to be ‘silenced’ by injunctions or judges who act outside of parliamentary law…is freedom of speech not worth protecting?

  6. admin admin

    I agree in principle but a right to privacy is in the Human Rights Act and by not giving the injuction you would be dismissing an article of the Human Rights Act. As I’ve said I’m torn but one article of the HRA in this case has to be ignored as they are mutally exclusive. It is an extremely tricky one which I can see both sides of but when it comes down to it they off-set and nothing should happen or come out in my view.

  7. Tommy Tommy

    Disagree about the injunction being fair, Neil. Regardless of what you may think of the situation, that Ms Thomas has the right to talk about her own sex life to whomever she wishes should be a fairly obvious liberal position to take. If there’s blackmail involved, that’s a crime and can be treated as such.

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