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Cameron 'uneasy' about use of injunctions

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Cameron 'uneasy' about use of injunctions

Post by Guest on 21.04.11 14:17

21 April 2011 Last updated at 13:24

.Cameron 'uneasy' about use of injunctions

David Cameron suggested that new legislation could be needed

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he feels "uneasy" about the development of privacy law in the UK.

He argued that Parliament, not judges, should decide on the balance between the freedom of the press and the right to privacy.

His comments follow a number of recent injunctions which have banned the identification of celebrities.

But a leading law firm has defended injuctions, saying they are not just for the rich.

Mr Cameron was challenged about the use of injunctions during a question-and-answer session at the General Motors factory in Luton.

He said that judges were using cases based on the Human Rights Act to develop a privacy law that left him feeling "a little uneasy".

However, Mr Cameron admitted he had not got all the the answers and said he needed to think some more about it.

On Wednesday, High Court judge Mr Justice Eady agreed to issue a "contra mundum" order - effectively a worldwide ban - in the case of a man who sought to prevent publication of material about his private life.

Such orders were previously used to stop the publication of details about the killers of James Bulger, when a court ruled that there was a "strong possibility" that their lives would be at risk if they were identified.

A contra mundum order is intended to apply forever, and it applies to all those who might come to know of it - as opposed to forbidding the publication of details by a specific newspaper or journalist.

Married footballer

Giving his reasons for making the order, sought by the claimant at a hearing on 6 April, Mr Justice Eady said the High Court had the power to stop anyone and everyone from publishing material to protect an individual's rights.

He said this power could be used "wherever it is necessary and proportionate".

In a separate case, a married Premier League footballer who reportedly had an affair with Big Brother's Imogen Thomas won the right to continue his anonymity.

The decision is seen by many as another step in the move by the courts to extend protections for the right to respect for privacy and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

But it also marks a further advance in the steps the courts are prepared to take in restricting the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Convention.

The law firm Carter Ruck, which has represented famous figures seeking injunctions, defended the practice.

Carter Ruck managing partner Cameron Doley said that injunctions could be obtained by people who were not rich and they were not there just to help the powerful suppress scandals.

And he argued that "genuinely private people" had a right to protection.

Household names

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has criticised the cost of contesting an order, describing the system as "unbalanced", and one that can be won by money rather than arguments.

But Mr Doley said that, since the cost of obtaining an order could cost in the low tens of thousands of pounds, it was within the reach of people who were not rich or famous.

"They may be professional people like doctors and lawyers who have some prominence but are not household names like John Terry."

PR consultant Max Clifford said: "The privacy of the rich and famous seems to be exactly what the courts are determined to achieve.

"What we've got in this country now is a privacy law that wasn't brought in by Parliament but the judges have decided what they want and that's what they've achieved."

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