LegalEagleStar

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Archive for May 2011

Who do these Super-Injunctions actually protect ??

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There has been a lot of hype recently surrounding what is referred to as ‘The Super-Injunction’ in Britain. A Super-Injunction is the result of a private sitting of the court where the case, the names of the parties and the terms of the injunction itself are kept secret except for those who are present in court. The Super-Injunction forms its legal basis from the UK’s Human Rights Act, 1998 and in effect is a legal gagging order which both prevents the media from reporting the details of a story and also restrains the media from even mentioning the existence of the injunction itself. The Super Injunction is being used by celebrities and sport stars to protect their names from being published in the media regarding their so-called private lives. Big Brother star Imogen Thomas was recently ‘named and shamed’ in the media for having an affair with a married footballer who could not be named as he had gone to court and was granted an injunction restraining the newspapers and media outlets from naming him. Thomas claimed that she could not afford to fund a high-priced legal team to obtain her the same protection. The media therefore could still print the story naming Thomas but could not name the married adulterer.

A full-page picture of Ryan Giggs with only his eyes blocked with a black strip appeared on the front page the Scottish Sunday Herald on 22 May 2011 and stated “Everyone knows that this is the footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret but we weren’t supposed to tell you about that…”. The publication of the Ryan Giggs photograph in the Sunday newspaper, the naming of the footballer on Twitter by some 70,000 Twitter users and his naming by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming under Parliamentary privilege made Ryan Giggs infidelities the world’s worst kept secret.

A recent Twitter user has brought the effectiveness of the Super-Injunction into question, in what has been described as the “Spycatcher moment” of the internet era, by attracting nearly 55,000 followers to a list of celebrities which it implied were the subject of these Super-Injunctions. The Irish Independent states that “the frenzy of activity on the micro-blogging site yesterday makes the Super-Injunctions as ineffective as the ban placed on publication of the autobiography of the MI5 officer Peter Wright in the mid-1980s. The ban on Spycatcher was lifted in 1988 when the Law Lords realised that overseas publication of the book made a gagging restriction pointless.”

Political activist Jemima Khan, who was wrongly included on the list, yesterday took to her Twitter page, which has more than 60,000 followers, to deny allegations that she was having an affair with Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Ms Khan is said to have had dinner with Clarkson and his wife the night before allegations emerged that the two were engaged in an extra-marital affair, allegations which were aired via the media site Twitter. Ms Khan, an ex-girlfriend of Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, was accused of going to court to gain such an injunction to prevent the media from publishing the reports, an accusation which is denied by all parties. Ms Khan tweeted on the morning of May 10th that “I’ve woken up trapped in a bloody nightmare” and assured her followers that the allegations were “untrue and upsetting”.

Similarly, presenter Gabby Logan has too been accused of having an extra-marital affair, an allegation which has been strenuously denied by all parties involved. Ms Logan, who is married to rugby union star Kenny Logan, was falsely accused of having an affair with footballer Alan Shearer; a story which came to light after a Judge had granted an injunction regarding another TV personality. Ms Logan was said to be devastated by the accusations and was forced to publicly deny the affair with the Daily Mail quoting Ms Logan as saying that she was a “faithful wife” and was found such allegations both “devastating and hurtful”.

Super-injunctions are rarely overturned, however, the High Court last year overturned a Super-Injunction preventing newspapers publishing allegations that John Terry, the Former England Captain, had an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, an ex-girlfriend of former team-mate Wayne Bridge. Perroncel has repeatedly denied allegations that she had an affair with the married England footballer who had obtained a Super-Injunction. However, in January 2010, a High Court judge removed the injunction on the grounds that freedom to discuss moral issues was vital to society and because the reason may have been that Terry may have been trying to protect his commercial sponsorships. Although the French model insisted she was just ‘friends’ with Terry, her ex-partner Bridge quit the England Team and refused to shake his former teammate’s hand during a game at Stamford Bridge in February last year. Another recent example is when the Royal Bank of Scotland banker Sir Fred Goodwin won a secret gagging order preventing his former occupation being revealed but the existence of the Super-Injunction was disclosed recently in the House of Commons. In 2009, the oil traders Trafigura and solicitors Carter-Ruck were granted an injunction on the publication of the Minton Report into the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. They then obtained a secret injunction preventing the media from reporting a parliamentary question about press freedom. Only hours before Trafigura was to be challenged in the High Court, the firm dropped its claim that to report Parliament would have amounted to contempt of court.

Former prostitute Helen Wood was recently prevented from selling a story naming a client who is a married Hollywood actor. Wood, who was used by the well-known actor whose name is protected by a Super-Injunction, has attacked his ‘fantastic family man’ persona. The married star took out an injunction to prevent the public discovering he had paid a prostitute £195 for sex. Wood counts England footballer Wayne Rooney among her other former famous clients, said she has found it increasingly difficult to keep the actor’s name a secret. Her rendezvous with Wayne Rooney and another call girl, Jennifer Thompson, before England’s World Cup campaign last summer became well-known after a judge lifted a ban on naming her. Wood has admitted that she was paid ‘more than £15,000’ by a newspaper for her story. Asked by the Daily Mail if she thought the revelations on the Internet made a mockery of the law on injunctions, she said: ‘Yes I do, actually, because Twitter is a social website, it is a network, isn’t it?

The UK Telegraph reported that on the 25th May 2011 “a senior executive from Twitter yesterday admitted for the first time that the website would turn over information to authorities if it was “legally required” to do so. Experts had previously assumed that people who breached gagging orders on Twitter were protected from legal reprisals because the website is outside the jurisdiction of British Courts. The admission came after Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, warned earlier this week that people who breached injunctions online were in for a “rude shock”. He said: “It is quite clear, and has been clear for some time in a number of different spheres, that the enforceability of Court Orders and Injunctions when the Internet exists into which information can be rapidly posted, that presents a challenge. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the right course of action is to abandon any attempt at preventing people from putting out information which may in some circumstances be enormously damaging to vulnerable people or indeed, in some cases, be the peddling of lies.”  Further, earlier this month the English High Court gave the green light for Louis Bacon, a billionaire US hedge fund manager to force Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, to disclose the identities of online commentators who allegedly defamed him.

With the online media outlets and social networking sites dominating the Internet traffic on a daily basis, has the Super-Injunction any real chance of success? Since they are so expensive to obtain do they just protect the rich? Does the law just protect those who have engaged in adulterous relationships while those who have been faithful continue to be subjected and are forced to defend unsubstantiated and hurtful online allegations with no consequences for those who have made up such rumours? Will the admission by Twitter that they will engage with and turn over information to the authorities about users when legally obligated to do so really have any impact or will this just encourage individuals to set up accounts with false email addresses with fake names and set them up in Internet Cafes where they are virtually untraceable? Does the Super Injunction impede on freedom of expression and deny natural justice? An individual’s right to privacy as against ones freedom of expression is an argument that will inevitably go on and on but, until that time presents itself one must ask; who do these Super-Injunctions actually protect and taking Ryan Giggs as an example, what is the point in obtaining one??

LegalEagleStar  Tuesday , 31st. May , 2011

San Antonio, Texas

Vacation in Texas continues, not uninterrupted…

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San Antonio

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Enjoying myself at home from home here in the Great State of Texas. That was until I’m woken up at 5AM local time, this morning by a call from the Office. “Hi Tom, it’s ‘G’ here. I didn’t see your Blog on Super injunctions appear yet.”  Half asleep I attempted to persuade my ‘friend’ that while it was early in the morning here in Texas that I was indeed keeping an eye on developments from here as things were moving at a fast rate on the Super injunctions front. “No” I said, “I’ll do that in the next few weeks.” “Right, well what did you do then?” I replied that I was chilling and relaxing myself. She laughed and then said the phone was ringing and she’d phone me back. Before I could say NO! she was gone. So, 5AM it was. Mind now attempting to work, slowly. The Morning news on KSAT starts at 5AM. A lot over here starts at 5AM. I don’t. So back to bed it was for me…. until about 5:30AM

”Hi Tom, it’s ‘G’ again. We’re busy over here. Isn’t it well for you off there in Texas having a Great Time. ‘S’ said to say Hi and will be in touch later.” This time I said… well can she make it much later please as I want, need more sleep. It’s nearly 100 degrees here, or it will be in a few hours time, according to The Weather Channel. So again, back to bed but this time I couldn’t sleep. My Grandson was awake. He has few words, none actually except AArrssee and the odd time he says YEEsss. So guess who ends up babysitting until Mammy or Daddy gets up later? You’ve guessed it. So Disney Channel, Mickey Mouse Club House it was for me for next several hours. The moment I saw said Child’s father taking a swim while I remained indoors with said Grandchild was enough to ignite our first and probably shortest row. ”You, inside now!’‘ was the start and finish of our encounter. No doubt he had a lovely, uninterrupted sleep. I think I’m starting to take a dislike to him. Yes, definitely so !

Office email arrived later. ”Sorry to phone you so early. I really needed to talk with you so hope I’m forgiven. ‘G’ ”  Now I’m worried. What did she phone me to talk about that was so urgent that I have clearly now forgotten or else have suffered memory loss ??  Where’s me bottle of Shiner, to restore my sanity? It’s not Guinness but it’s good.

LegalEagleStar  Wednesday, 25th. May, 2011.
San Antonio, Texas.

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May 26, 2011 at 12:44 am

On vacation, I think…

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I headed to Texas last week on holidays, as I thought. Well yes, some family members are here with me. Usually we come over a few times a year and rest up. Watch whatever TV is available, drive to local iHop and sit in the car outside just to connect with the internet and respond to emails.

On arrival my man on the spot, so to speak, who looks after the place for me told me that as regards TV, we were down to just a few local stations. Cool was my reply. Not really, I was told. But sure I’m used to ‘Friends’ followed by ‘David Letterman’, followed by ‘Craig Ferguson’. That’s all we seemed to watch for the last number of years. Ensured early to bed, early to rise and all that. No, I was told. You need to follow the Soccer. But sure the season is over I informed all and sundry. Our American Soccer ! OK, how could I be diplomatic ? Anyway, how selfish was I not having The Disney Junior Channel for my young Grandson, I was told. OK then. So a guy armed with a satellite dish arrived and I now have the privilege of watching Junior Disney, Mickey Mouse etc. for several hours each day with my beloved grandson….

This year’s vacation would I thought be no different to those delightful times we all remember. How mistaken was I. Well after a couple of days I sent a Text to my Office in Dublin… ‘Hi Michael. Everything OK?’  I got the following reply… ”Office burned down, M’s other eye fell out and S is pregnant with triplets..Nothing we can’t handle 🙂 just kidding. Everything fine but too busy.”  I laughed but then realised in second text that they wanted me ‘contactable’ on the internet. Wonder whose bright idea that was seeing as how I’m the Boss ! What was wrong with phoning or texting me? I was advised that they ‘might’ want to get me to look at a communication that was urgent. So, I agreed. I was being selfish really as I missed my Twitter Pals. Alerts were sent by me out on Twitter (courtesy of iHop) among other places seeking a Service Provider. So, to cut a long story short, on Tuesday afternoon another guy armed with yet another Satellite Dish arrived. The end result is that we now have internet at our Ranch and for A Few Dollars More, into said guy’s pocket, we now have the entire Hacienda live with WiFi.

Oh yes, my Office telephoned (yes, the old-fashioned method) me about 10 minutes after the Internet Guy had WiFi-ed us, to ask me why they hadn’t seen my Blog earlier. I said I was on Vacation but that didn’t wash at all. They wanted to know where my piece on Super Injunctions was. I was only a few moments linked up, so to speak, don’t they understand that I need a computer and more? I had thought, maybe naively as it turns out, that I was free for a couple of weeks. No, it seemed not. It would appear  they really were concerned with me sitting out here in the wilds of Texas with nothing to do. So, I’ve now started working on my next Blog as aforesaid on son’s MacBook computer. Then… email arrives asking me what I thought of the email they had just received? I said I didn’t know what they were talking about ..to be informed that as I usually view all emails both in and out of the office that I’d obviously still be doing that. Well, I did have internet now and sure what else would I be doing !!

I was once an advocate for the Virtual Office and suchlike. Now, I’m not so sure.

LegalEagleStar ,  Thursday 19th May 2011

San Antonio, Texas.

”Wanted Dead or Alive”…

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Enda Kenny

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Dead would be the cheaper option and would cut out the greedy lawyers !

While society celebrates the assassination of supposedly the world’s greatest terrorist, I as a lawyer feel somewhat compromised. I have spent most of my adult life fighting for the rights of the individual against the Big Corporations, as have many of my colleagues. In doing so we have battled with Insurance Giants, Banks, Local Authorities and indeed the Government itself. We have done battle with these same entities who have one great advantage over us. That is, they are in control of the purse-strings and whenever it suits them, they can change the law to suit their cause. The idea of a level playing field is rather an aspiration these days. It has been a hard struggle but one where the clients interests are paramount. Not an easy battle to win when at times, your own Professional Body has ensured that you go into such battles with your hands tied firmly behind your back. While Insurance Companies, Banks, even Government Agencies use the media to their advantage, where we are being portrayed as the Anti-Christ Incarnate, out to damage Society to the detriment of the average Citizen. And thanks in great part to our Governors, we have no right to say otherwise.

Over the last few months we see daily on our TV Screens that yet another Country is in Revolution.  If you are on Twitter you’ll get the news much earlier before there is too much Spin (lies) attached. Some rebellions are peaceful while others are not. It seems that in the last few days we are told that Justice was served when Terrorist No.1 was assassinated by Country A in Country B’s back yard. No great shouts of breach of Sovereignty, International Law, Human rights violations, breach of X,Y & indeed Z, have been heard and so one is lead to the conclusion that indeed Justice must have been served. As lawyers we are faced with a dilemma. Do we speak up and state the obvious or do we take the view that the end justifies the means? Well, when I was at Law School the latter would certainly not be tolerated. Maybe times have changed. We are told there is a War on Terror and that we must all play our part. Our own Great Leader, Enda Kenny tells us we must Redouble our efforts in this War against Terror ! He should know as we have only recently elected him as our Leader. Well all those years in Law School must have been wasted. Maybe we all should have joined the Banks or the Insurance Companies or indeed trained with Politicians at home or on the advanced course at the EU. The change of mindset would have helped us decide on what is really Right and Wrong, as quite clearly our Law Schools got it badly wrong with over-concentrating our minds with such issues as human rights, workers rights and other such malarkey.

The World is now in recession, so we’re told and we all need a bail-out. We must all take cuts and workers rights are being run over by steam rollers on a daily/hourly basis. But sure, that’s all right. The times we live in now dictate that only those in charge i.e. society’s elite should be shielded from such cuts. Banks have no money so the Citizen must pay up as it would be unthinkable not to save ‘Our Banks’. Did you ever consider for one moment, why at a time when we have little or no money that wars seem recession proof.  Maybe there are Billions of Dollars/Euros out there to finance the War on Terror. Because that is what really matters. Some Banks must be funding this heroic effort and it would be unpatriotic for us not to continue doing our duty by contributing to such bailouts. We need to fund the War effort.

While lawyers are usually at the forefront of Revolutions worldwide and risk their lives daily in pursuit of the rights of the Citizen, it seems that our lawyers must be more concerned with conveyancing for the privileged few or indeed dragging the Citizen through the Courts in order to take their home from them, for the Banks of course. Either that or ensuring the Citizen is incarcerated for non-payment of Litter charges or other such unpatriotic acts. Have I missed something here? What did Law School not teach me? I know that when I qualified I had to attend a lecture on Clients Funds and how to keep the Clients money in the Client Account. It was like an indoctrination in fact and one that was worth attending. On the other hand, I did attend an ‘optional’ lecture entitled ‘Ethics’. Excellent Lecture and well worth attending but why was it not mandatory? I suppose I should have been bright enough to have worked it out then but, as I said, we obviously weren’t taught the ‘right stuff’ at Law School.

Listen, is it time to revert to the Wanted Dead or Alive Posters of the Old West? Maybe we could put a modern spin on it? Instead of Invading  countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and spending Billions on a campaign to overthrow the Local Regime, maybe it would be better to just Nuke them. A once off payment which surely wouldn’t be too hard to negotiate with your local friendly Bank. There’s one Bank I know who market themselves as ‘the Bank who likes to say Yes’. Of course fewer people would be employed if this course was undertaken but at least it would wipe out unemployment in a couple of countries, at least ! I’m sure our Unions wouldn’t object to such measures. Haven’t really heard much from them lately. But I digress. We lawyers need now to go back to Law School again to learn the new laws as I’m certainly totally out of touch with the World as we now know it. I wonder how many Continuous Legal Education Points I’ll have to amass until I am ‘reprogrammed’ in the New Order of things. Maybe that’s what the IMF were referring to when they proclaimed the Reforming of the Legal Profession as a priority! And if the IMF/EU say it has to be done, our Government will have no option but to say ‘Yes’. Well that’s what they’ve told us so far, isn’t it? Or am I mistaken ?

Ireland, indeed the World in 2011. Where are we heading? Or, should I say Who is being Targeted next? In fact, where the hell are we all heading and who is leading us there ??

LegalEagleStar , Wednesday , 4th May, 2011

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May 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

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