Super-injunctions, eh – don’tcha just love’em? This week’s bizarre events – with former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin revealed in parliament as the man behind a super-injunction so all-encompassing that it forbade publication even of the fact that the man involved was a banker – reaffirms my view that these blunt legal instruments are usually counter-productive in the end. Admittedly, the name is public now only because what is said in the Commons is covered by parliamentary privilege – ie it can be freely reported without fear of legal reprisal.
These injunctions tend to be promoted by certain law firms as a way for the rich and famous to maintain their privacy. However, in many cases they just make the story rumble on for longer, as journalists find endless ways to take sideways pot-shots at those they are not allowed to link directly to a particular misdemeanour or peccadillo. In the case of Sir Fred, the fact of the injunction has led to vastly greater press coverage and bad PR than the original story would have warranted. Vast outpourings of bile about the former RBS man have appeared on Twitter, along with the real reason for the injunction (if you look carefully enough). The case will now be brought up again and again as an example of why, in many people’s view, the law needs to be reformed. For the subjects of these injunctions, it must be a constant nightmare, what is going to come out next. More MP’s with more names, perhaps? Far better, I suspect, in most cases, to face the music, let the media do their worst – then move on.