11 March 2011

Assumptions of super injunctions

A so-called super injunction has one aspect which is seldom spelled out: the role of obedience.

In essence a super injunction has two parts: one prevents the facts pertaining to an affair being stated; the other prevents disclosure of the fact that the courts are censoring the press on the matter. In other words if the media covers the topic in any way, they must not tell the whole truth and must not say that they are only telling part of the truth.

No press organisation can be restricted by an injunction unless it is informed of its existence. And for any injunction to make sense to those who are required to act as censors, at least the key facts of what is to be censored need to be communicated. For instance, the recent Goodwin injunction would have to be a little more specific than ordering, “Don’t publish anything on Fred Goodwin.”

If then the recent Fred Goodwin injunction (and at the time of writing I don’t know what it covers exactly) was communicated to all the main media outlets, it means that there are tens of people who know the key facts of the matter, but are sufficiently law abiding to keep stumm. For once information spills onto the web – and particularly on sites hosted in free speech jurisdictions – it is secret no longer.

Nonetheless, information does seep onto the web and increasingly we read The Guardian in combination with Google.

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