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British Gagging Orders Used and Abused #MeToo

Updated on October 25, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Mystery Man

The image making headlines
The image making headlines

Here We Go Again

The #MeToo campaign swept across the U.S.A. and beyond but in the U.K. it has hit a hurdle.

This week mainstream media has reported a gagging injunction put in place to protect the identity of an alleged abuser.

As always such a gagging order or super-injunction merely increases interest in the anonymous individual.

The Independent reports -

MPs could use parliamentary privilege to name the “leading businessman” granted an injunction to prevent the media publishing allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse.

Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, said she was “done with rich men using our laws to hide victims away”.

After calling for claimants in the case to contact her, she said she did not yet know the man’s identity and so could not reveal it in parliament during Wednesday’s prime minister’s questions session.

As yet Ms Phillips has not.

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph has been at the forefront of various investigative campaigns, notably the M.P. expenses scandal a few years ago.

This year they planned to publish a story about a leading British businessman and alleged behaviour against five employees but the business at the heart of the story quickly applied for an injunction and the story was pulled.

In truth the story gathered momentum and has been published widely online following the injunction but without the name of the person and the business involved.

The main issue is N.D.As or non disclosure agreements.

The story has been on hold since July. In August a High Court Judge refused to silence the story but an immediate application to the Court of Appeal followed.

Both sides had undertaken to “keep confidential” the subject matter of complaints in the non-disclosure agreements (N.D.As), which were breached by complainants who spoke to The Telegraph, the judgment said.

What next?

Parliament, M.Ps and even P.M. May has joined in the injunction debate and things look set to change.

A non disclosure agreement may be fine to protect a business against industrial espionage but should it be used to protect a philanderer or worse still an abuser?

This injunction could be a tipping point.

It is just a matter of time before the story blows wide open.

The injunction has for now created a frenzy of interest.

Some rich men have used injunctions to hide affairs but if this case involves abuse it is a different ball game.

Lord Peter Hain Names Mystery Man As Philip Green

Within hours of posting the above report Lord Peter Hain used parliamentary privilege to name the man at the centre of these allegations as Philip Green, former boss of now defunct business B.H.S.

Mr Green has been at the centre of other allegations in recent years

One report available online is -

Gagging Order News 2011

Originally written in 2011 footballer Ryan Giggs was the man attempting to silence the media back then.

The media in the U.K. tried to reveal details of an alleged affair between Manchester United football star Ryan Giggs and Imogen Thomas but a so-called super-injunction or gagging order was put in place.

The footballer at the centre of the row was granted a super-injunction to silence Imogen after he made claims that she tried to blackmail him for her silence.

This meant that although he was not named she was.

Her reputation it seemed was immaterial and she was therefore unable to defend herself against the charge of blackmail.

At one point the situation was out of control.

The Ryan Giggs Affair

Early May 23, 2011, a U.K. High Court judge upheld the gagging order refusing to lift it following a legal challenge by U.K. tabloid, The Sun.

It did not take long for Liberal Democrat M.P. John Hemming to finally reveal to the world the name of the footballer at the centre of the row, namely Manchester United's number one player Ryan Giggs.

John Hemming had been pushing for the gagging order to be lifted for some time. He was able to name Giggs using parliamentary privilege.

Giggs may not be everyone's number one Man U player, but he is mine. He has played consistently well over his years at Man U and in the past has been a credit to the squad.

Does the revelation of an affair mean all that has changed?.

Well it should not.

High ranking politicians and more have affairs and scandals. For some it spells the end of their careers, but for others it does not.

Whether or not a scandal is bad news depends on what the scandal is and how it is handled by the person or person's involved.

My personal opinion is that if Ryan had just let the press have a field day the news by now would have run its course. That may sound harsh but look what happened instead.

This weekend, in defiance of legal proceedings Giggs started against social media platform Twitter, users of twitter named and named again.

Having demanded the name of people who hold any twitter accounts bandying his name about, the world and its wife began tweeting his name.

In true I am Spartacus style, the world of Twitter was as one.

MP John Hemming told Parliament that, "With about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter, it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all."

Yes I guess that could be true.

So where does Ryan Giggs and gagging orders in general go from here?

For Ryan Giggs there is a wife and children to consider. I have no doubt that he and his wife have been through their testing time already.

His kids may be a different matter.

I hope they had some warning before today's events.

A Scottish newspaper had printed an obvious image of Ryan yesterday and so it was clear the gagging was going to fail in the near future.

As for gagging orders in the UK, they can be necessary but the problem seems to have been that, instead of protecting those they were designed to protect, they have been a rich person's or celebrity's tool for covering infidelities.

The majority have been used by men.

Most people care little about such affairs these days.

Ryan Giggs has caused much more interest by trying to gag the news than if it had just run its course.

You can argue that his private affairs are just that, and should not be public gossip.

However, with the spread of the Internet, and changes in how the media operate, it is hard to stop such "juicy" gossip.

The best course of action would have been for Ryan to play fair with his wife and family in the first place. If he had not played away, so to speak, none of this would have happened.

However, we are all human and such things do happen. Now that it is out in the open perhaps he, his family and the media can put this story to rest.

Last weekend Manchester Untied were crowned Kings of the U.K. premiership for another year. This could mean that the timing of this leak is favourable. By the time the football season in the U.K. begins again in earnest, it will be old news and old hat..

© 2011 Ethel Smith


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