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MP names Ryan Giggs in UK injunction row
MP says "impractical" to jail users tweeting that footballer has injunction over alleged affair.
Last Modified: 23 May 2011 20:45

John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP in the UK, has said it would be impractical to imprison 75,000 Twitter users who have named footballer Ryan Giggs as having a privacy injunction over an alleged affair with Imogen Thomas, a British reality TV star.

Addressing parliament on Monday, Hemming said: "With about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter, it is impractical to imprison them all."

Under the UK's parliamentary privilege rules, serving MPs and members of the House of Lords, the country's upper house, have the right to legal immunity from prosecution for slander, contempt of court or breaching the official secrets act.

Earlier on Monday, the High Court again ruled that the so-called super injunction should not be lifted, following an application by the UK's Sun newspaper for it to be discharged.

The judge said: "The court's duty remains to try and protect the claimant, and particularly his family, from intrusion and harassment so long as it can."

For weeks, the British media have been fighting the growing use by the rich and famous of "super injunctions" - English court orders which prevent publication of unwelcome stories and prohibit journalists from even reporting that a ban is in place.

A newspaper in Scotland, which has its own legal system, ran a thinly disguised photograph of Giggs on Sunday over an article calling it "unsustainable" to bar reporters from naming the man identified in the Twitter postings.

Roderick Dadak, a lawyer at UK media firm Lewis Silkin, said the case showed how hard it was to regulate online gossip.

"It has drawn the attention of all, the judiciary and parliament, to the fact that the Internet is pretty much
uncontrollable," said Dadak.

"Anyone can post whatever they want out of the jurisdiction and there is nothing you can do about it."

Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, announced on Monday that a parliamentary committee would study the issues raised in what has turned into a clash between politicians and the judiciary.

In a television interview, David Cameron, the prime minister, said: "It is rather unsustainable, this situation, where newspapers can't print something that everyone else is clearly talking about.

"The danger is that [court] judgements are effectively writing a sort of new law, which is what parliament is meant to do."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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