Daily Archives: March 11, 2011

Superinjunctions: The beginning of the end for the free press?

I try my best to keep my political views away from this blog. I make no apologies for the views I do hold, strongly to the left, but I try to keep things reasonably light hearted and personal here. If people want to read about politics there are approximately eleventy squajillion political blogs out there, both good and bad, and I figure people can find their own way to them without me adding my own flavour of screed to the cacophony.

I also hold strong opinions about the press and media in this country, but I think that sites such as the magisterial Tabloid Watch, Angry Mob and Five Chinese Crackers do a far better job than I ever could in flagging the hypocrisy of the British media.

That being said, this new trend for granting “superinjunctions” is a disturbing one, to say the very least. I first became aware of the “superinjunction” in 2009 after it went public that Trafigura had taken one out to prevent The Guardian from reporting on the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast. I later heard of them again after all that ridiculous brouhaha about John Terry’s love life (I won’t dignify that non-story with a link).

Today it emerged that Fred Goodwin is Not a Banker; or at least, not if the superinjunction he tried to take out had anything to say about it. There are many interesting issues surrounding the injunction, not least of which is the tacit acknowledgement that the word ‘banker’ is now pejorative in tone, but that’s another blog post for someone else to write. The problem is, superinjunctions are dangerous and easily open to abuse. The Trafigura and Fred Goodwin stories only came to light under the protection of Parliamentary Privilege

If you can’t even acknowledge the fact that a company or individual has brought action against you, you are effectively court ordered to excise a legal proceeding from existence. I don’t care whether you’re a multinational corporation covering up misdeeds, a footballer covering up having your end away with a former team mate’s ex-girlfriend (a sentence I’m ashamed to write) or the inept, blundering, cockwaffle of a useless banker, yes, BANKER, who presided over the collapse of RBS, the fiscal equivalent of being the captain of a ship who knowingly steers straight into shallows and grounds the vessel. No-one should be able to use the law of the land as a blunt instrument to silence those who report on their misdeeds, sexual antics or the plain fact of what they once (incompetently) did for a living. Are the press running a blatantly false story? Then a plain old injunction is good enough, it prevents them running the story and justice is done.

Any action beyond that is a flagrant abuse of the system and, furthermore, it’s the kind of abuse only open to those with enough money to hire the most expensive of legal teams in the first place, effectively meaning there is one rule for the rich and another for everyone else. A two tier legal system is wrong on every level I can possibly think of.

Anyway, rant over. Since Fred Goodwin is Not a Banker, let me see if I can figure out what he really is…

Fred Goodwin is a Circus Clown?

Fred Goodwin is a Zoo Monkey?

Fred Goodwin is a Small Bed & Breakfast Just Outside Tunbridge Wells?

Fred Goodwin was a small arboreal maniraptoran that hoarded the eggs of other species? (hat tip to Jake Kale)

Fred Goodwin is a Member of the Bolshoi Ballet?

Fred Goodwin is a Rich, Entitled, Shitweasel Who Has The Temerity to Try and Pretend That He Didn’t Break RBS to the Tune of a £20 Billion Taxpayer Funded Bailout?

Yeah, I think that’s the one. Shitweasel. I could be wrong of course, why not say what Fred Goodwin is in the comments, maybe we can stumble onto the truth by accident…