Twitter account exposes celebrity gagging orders

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A controversial legal tool in the UK used to protect celebrities' privacy has been defied by a single Twitter user who is posting details of a series of alleged indiscretions.

The 'superinjunction' is a type of gagging order in which the press is prohibited from reporting not only the nature of any allegations - but even the existence of the injunction itself.

In recent months, the existence of many such superinjunctions has become common knowledge. While the threat of legal action has prevented the press from reporting any details, many journalists have been having a lot of fun by dropping hints and coded messages. But the public at large has remained in the dark.

Since yesterday, though, one plucky Twitter user has been tweeting details, complete with names. At least one of those mentioned is vociferously denying the allegations - socialite Jemima Khan, for example, has been quick to deny the existence of intimate photos of herself and Jeremy Clarkson.

Other superinjunctions listed on the account, though, support the rumors that have been floating around media circles in recent weeks. They include allegations of affairs, visits to a prostitute and sexual harassment.

There are half a dozen claimed superinjunctions posted on the site so far - with many more to come, to judge by the stories we've heard elsewhere. It's not clear how the poster got the information.

We're far too frit to give you the name of the offending Twitter account - the TG Daily coffers just aren't deep enough to fight off legal action from actors, soccer players and other celebrities.

But it's easy enough to find, and its existence may just help bring an end to a rather nasty little legal mechanism which strikes right at the root of free speech and a free press.

The prime minister, David Cameron, has expressed concern at the way the courts are apparently creating a new privacy law through such superinjunctions, rather than leaving it to Parliament. And an inquiry into the practice is expected to report its findings later this month.