|Unmasked: Giggs obtained a super injunction to keep his alleged six-month extra-marital affair with reality TV star Thomas a secret but it soon became the world's most revealed secret. - AFP|
by Roger Tan
The Ryan Giggs’ drama goes to show that rights to privacy and free press have to keep up with technological changes in this age of social media.
It had been a hell of a week for one of Manchester United’s most celebrated players, Ryan Giggs. Hitherto often portrayed as a family man, Giggs had earlier obtained a super injunction to keep his alleged six-month extra-marital affair with 28-year-old reality TV star Imogen Thomas secret. Of course, last week saw it become the world’s most revealed secret.
With the super injunction in force, neither Thomas nor the media could reveal or even mention the Premier League star’s name. (A super injunction is a temporary injunction which restrains a person from publishing private or confidential information concerning the applicant or informing others of the existence of such injunction and the court proceedings.)
But this had not impressed the Wild West of social media because by May 21, tens of thousands of Twitter users had already tweeted and re-tweeted Giggs’ name. This is by far the biggest act of mass civil disobedience on the Internet, making a mockery of the court order.
Needless to say, Britain’s feral and sanctimonious media were not amused at all, as it did not make sense to them that they could still be gagged from publishing something which is already an open secret on Twitter.
Even British Prime Minister David Cameron weighed in, describing the privacy law of Britain as no longer sustainable in this age of social media since everybody already knew the footballer’s identity.
Then May 22 in Scotland, which has a different legal system, saw The Sunday Herald emblazoning a large picture of Giggs on its front page. The next day, British MP John Hemming finally used parliamentary privilege, in clear defiance of the court order, to unmask Giggs as the subject footballer.
“With about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter, it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all,” argued Hemming in Parliament.
Shortly after that on the same day, the News Group Newspapers (NGN) asked the High Court to lift the anonymised injunction in the wake of Hemming’s revelation. Senior media judge Justice Michael Tugendhat again rejected NGN’s attempt, arguing that while it was obvious that the purpose of the injunction to protect a secret had failed, it had not, however, failed in so far as its purpose was to prevent intrusion or harassment.