Curing Injunctionitis

Pay UpIt takes a heart of stone not to at least be curious about who the married celebrity that had an affair with his ex-wife after remarrying might be.  This might be why the injunction debate that got the press into such a frenzy before Kate came and finished them off feels so abstract.

But there is a great feeling that despite the best efforts of our national treasure wind up merchants the debate about injunctions and who can get one is missing the point. 

The campaign to shine a light on injunctions inevitably comes from Fleet Street, and more specifically, from those papers that revel in celebrity gossip to such an extent that their websites should be properly retitled

I digress.  There should probably be a privacy law.  Having select, piecemeal details of your life thrown to millions of people in the interest of gratuitous sneering is an illiberal affront to human, personal dignity.

And it might sound twee to say it, but did we not lose a member of the royal family to what was ostensibly the tabloids pursuit of gossip?

But it should be Parliament making the law, not the Courts.  The scope of the European Convention of Human Rights and Human Rights Act were deliberately kept open to interpretation. 

But I’ll bet those British lawyers who drafted the Convention in post-war Europe didn’t foresee it being used to protect the privacy of millionaire adulterers who were kept in the shadows while their mistresses were thrown to the tabloid wolves and gagged all the same.

Parliament should enshrine a right to privacy and define more tightly what ‘public interest’ is.  And it should ensure that we all have the rights, so Imogen Thomas doesn’t have her part in some sordid affair exposed while **** ***** gets to hide his infidelity because of the money he can afford to throw at it. 

For me, the gender argument being thrown about is vague and nonsensical.  The bigger, clearer, evil at work is that this kind of justice is only available to the rich – getting an injunction costs tens of thousands – and that this distribution of justice according to means is only likely to grow.

Of all the cuts being made one of the most quietly depressing is in legal aid.  £350m is to be taken from the legal aid budget, which will mean that there will be 25% fewer civil cases supported by the government: 547,000 fewer people receiving legal assistance each year.

Inevitably, family law will take the biggest hit.  Divorce and child residence court cases will no longer be eligible for legal aid other than in narrow circumstances involving issues such as domestic violence or forced marriage.

This will mean lots more cases where wealthy, powerful men are able to hide behind legal means, even if it doesn’t give an opportunity to print a photo of Imogen Thomas on tabloid websites or for Julie Burchill to spill 1,000 words of eye-rolling guff our way.

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