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Blow to UK privacy laws,Ryan Giggs outed in ‘affair’

Media/Entertainment: Man u star first named on twitter,later lib dem mp hemming identified him.

Written by Associated Press | London |
May 24, 2011 12:41:48 am

Britain’s scandal-hungry news media,an outspoken parliamentarian and thousands of ordinary people using the Twitter micro-blogging site have dealt a body blow to British privacy laws by flouting a gag order imposed on a case related to a soccer star.

Soccer player Ryan Giggs had been granted an injunction preventing media from publishing allegations that he’d had an affair with reality television contestant Imogen Thomas,but over the past few days his identity has increasingly appeared across the Internet,leaving newspapers to chomp at the bit.

Journalists knew. Soccer fans knew. Even Prime Minister David Cameron knew,telling morning television that it was “rather unsustainable where newspapers can’t print something everyone else is talking about.’’

But breaking an injunction is a serious business,and the dam didn’t burst until British lawmaker John Hemming identified Giggs in Parliament. Members of Parliament benefit from absolute immunity,meaning they say what they wish and shrug off the threat of contempt of court.

The pressure had been building all weekend,with hundreds of tweets an hour identifying Giggs as the man behind the gag order. Fans openly taunted Giggs about the matter at a recent game.

Manchester United star Giggs was seeking anonymity,but the effort backfired as the case became a touchstone for arguments over what Britons know as “super-injunctions’’.

The injunction that had been at work in the soccer star’s case was more properly known as an “anonymised injunction’’,which meant that media organisations could write about him,so long as they kept his name a secret.

Every time his legal team tried to plug a leak,several more sprang. Thomas went to Britain’s High Court to try to overturn the injunction this month. She was defeated,but a mysterious Twitter account revealed Giggs’ name anyway.

Of 30 or so such injunctions awarded in Britain since 2008,all but three have gone to males. Some people have suggest injunctions are being used by wealthy men to keep their alleged sexual indiscretions from being aired.

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