Okay, in case the intersection of the English Premier League, tabloid sex stories, and media law isn’t your cup of tea (and why wouldn’t it be?), here’s the deal. Last month, a story semi-leaked that an EPL footballer supposedly had an affair with Imogen Thomas, a Welsh model. However, the story couldn’t fully leak, because British courts blocked the player’s name from being revealed.
This, however, didn’t stop news sources in other countries from revealing the name of the footballer in question (Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs), figuring that they, being based outside England, were on safe legal footing. But even though Giggs’ name has circulated far and wide in connection with this story, thanks to the court injunction, the UK press has been quiet. Until now. Via Sporting Intelligence:
That’s Scotland’s Sunday Herald, teasing a story about privacy laws run amok -which includes revealing Giggs by name – with a photo of Giggs that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Here’s what the paper’s editor had to say on the decision to run the cover and story:
“The legal position is absolutely clear, we don’t publish in England and we are not covered by the superinjunction.”
He added that he was “absolutely confident” in the paper’s position, though he “absolutely did not take the decision lightly.” (Interestingly, the paper didn’t publish an image the cover on its website, nor the story in question, in order to shore up its legal standing.) The editorial accompanying the story and cover, though, says:
“Today we identify the footballer whose name has been linked to a court superinjunction by thousands of postings on Twitter. Why? Because we believe it is unsustainable that the law can be used to prevent newspapers from publishing information that readers can access on the internet at the click of a mouse.”
Indeed they can. And more interesting than the actual allegation of an affair is how this whole story made its way to the front lines of the debate over privacy laws as they relate to the British press. As Forbes noted today,it’s become such a hot-button issue that Giggs is now a bigger deal than he would have been without the injunction that kept his name “private.” This story could mark the moment the British court system realizes that if a story is even the slightest bit out in public (and wasn’t obtained through, say, phone hacking), you’re just not keeping it down.
[h/t Bill Barnwell]