U.K. Courts to Journalists: Stow It
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
Parliamentary official John Hemming has drawn attention to a new type of court order forbidding members of Britain’s fourth estate to cover cases deemed too sensitive for public consideration. The order, known as a super-injunction, promises legal consequences—including possible jail time—for journalists daring to ask the wrong questions or even report a restriction’s existence.
Details on the injunction that prompted Hemming’s criticism were not forthcoming. —ARK
An MP who is launching an inquiry into excessive and possibly unlawful court secrecy says a new type of gagging order is hampering the work of investigative journalists.
John Hemming said the new breed of injunction, which was used in relation to a case in the high court in London last week, meant journalists could face jail simply for asking questions.
This goes a step further than preventing people speaking out against injustice,” said Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley and a longtime campaigner against secrecy. “It has the effect of preventing journalists from speaking to people subject to this injunction without a risk of the journalist going to jail. That is a recipe for hiding miscarriages of justice.”
... There has been growing concern over the use of gagging orders in UK courts. It is not known precisely how many superinjunctions have been issued, but an informed legal estimate is that as many as 20 have been granted in the UK over the last 18 months.