Superinjunction prompts MPs to ask for regulation of Twitter

Politicians are calling for a change in privacy laws, as well as having the authority to regulate Twitter, following that whole superinjunction saga.

And, according to lawyers, they have every opportunity to create a statutory privacy law if they choose to.

The comments come as Lord Mackay told Radio 4 this morning that lords and politicians should be looking at how feasible it is to control Twitter, as well as if it was fair to discuss people’s lives and affairs.

He added that people had currently been focused on what had recently happened but they also went beyond into the future.

“We need to look at these issues quickly,” he said.

Yesterday the superinjunction story took a turn with Lib Dem MP John Hemming using the protection of parliamentary privilege to name Ryan Giggs as the footballer who allegedly obtained an injunction.

As soon as the cat was out of the bag every media outlet was naming and shaming the star, which also angered some MPs.

However, Hemming used the reasoning that not everyone who had broken the injunction on Twitter could be arrested. This was something Giggs’ lawyers demanded, and if they had got their way thousands of people who leaked the details could have found themselves facing penalties. If they were rumbled. 

Tory Peter Bone supported the MP, telling Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that it was “in the interests of every citizen in the country that an MP can stand up and say what he thinks without fear there is some recourse in law”.

He warned that any attempt to restrict what MPs could say in the House would be dangerous.

Regardless, the has announced plans for a joint committee to consider whether there should be a change in the law relating to privacy injunctions.

The whole involvement by MPs and Hemming has been described by lawyers as “bizzare”.

Hanna Basha, a partner at PSB Law, tells TechEye: “It is a pretty bizarre situation where an MP would voluntarily and knowingly disclose the name of someone to whom the Court had given the protection of anonymity.  

“If politicians do not like the way that privacy law is developing through the courts then they have the option to create a statutory privacy law.  The Judge making the injunction would have considered evidence and carefully weighed up the Claimant’s rights to privacy against the newspaper’s right to freedom of expression, and it is unlikely that the MP will have all of that information.   

“Often in these cases there is a real need to keep information private because of the serious effect of the disclosure on other parties. 

“For instance, the Court may well be concerned to protect the feelings of the wife and children of the Claimant, who may find it incredibly distressing for details of infidelity to be splashed all over the front of a newspaper.”