The FT on "unfree speech"
Padraig Reidy: The FT on "unfree speech"
11 Mar 11

The Financial Times leader today cuts right to the heart of the debate about privacy sparked by Sir Fred Goodwin seemingly bizarre injunction, which it is alleged prohibits the press from identifying the former RBS chief as a “banker”:

Super-injunctions, which forbid journalists from reporting that they have been granted, as well as preventing disclosure of the information that is their subject, have become increasingly popular. They are a menace to democracy and should be scrapped.

It is clear that there is a balance to be struck between the right of an individual to a private life, and people’s right to be appraised of matters that are of public interest. But of late, driven by a series of rulings based on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the pendulum has swung too far in favour of greater privacy.

Sections of the press have done themselves no favours by intrusive reporting of private matters whose disclosure is not in the public interest. That is regrettable. But it does not alter the fact that the public has a right to be able to make informed choices about those whose actions make an impact on their lives. Information is the life-blood of democracy. Too often, super-injunctions are a tool used to thwart this, protecting the rich and powerful by enabling them to gag the press

The piece goes on to suggest the need for a properly drafted privacy law. Of course, the fear could be that a statute privacy law could be even harsher on the press than the current situation is.