The previously assumed freedom of Twitter may be under threat after Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General claimed that there is a serious possibility of users who reveal injunctions being prosecuted for contempt of court for publishing sensitive material.
Traditionally, the enforcement of these kind of injunctions was brought about by the person who had taken out the privacy order, however Mr. Grieve revealed that he would consider acting to uphold the law if he thought it was necessary. The courts hold the power to fine or imprison those who deliberately break court rulings, but the difference between alluding to an injunction and breaking one would have to be determined in court. Mr. Grieve also explained that proceedings could be brought against newspapers that dropped hints about the identity of a person protected by an injunction.
His comments were backed by David Allen Green, a media lawyer. He said:
“With the rise of the internet everybody's a publisher. The law treats self-publication in the same way [as publication by the mainstream media]. It means that a whole lot of people are exposed to civil and criminal liability who wouldn't have been ten years ago.”
The idiosyncrasies of celebrities are of little importance, but the case of Trafigura proves that the controversial behaviour of organisations should not be hidden behind injunctions. It appears that this issue will run and run until a resolution is reached.
There are strong arguments on both sides, damaging accusations can ruin families but a privacy law could curtail investigative journalism. The coalition government have announced plans to look into the issue of privacy and injunctions, hopefully this will lead to a reasoned debate rather than a collection of the self interests of different elements of the media.