Gagging orders could put journos behind bars, warns MP

Journalists could soon be putting themselves at risk of imprisonment just for asking questions. That is the warning from one Liberal Democrat MP as he launches an inquiry into the growing – and potentially illegal – use of gagging orders in the UK court system.

John Hemming, a longtime campaigner against secrecy, says that the use of superinjunctions to stop people discussing events that a claimant would rather be kept secret, goes “a step further than preventing people speaking out against injustice.

“It has the effect of preventing journalists from speaking to people subject to this injunction without a risk of the journalist going to jail. That is a recipe for hiding miscarriages of justice.”

As well as superinjunctions, some claimants have successfully taken out ‘hyperinjuctions’ which forbid the recipient talking to their MP at all. Hemming’s parliamentary investigation aims to collect a variety of gagging orders granted in recent years and, after analysis, present the findings to the justice select committee later this year.

One practice Hemming is aiming to show up is “the costs for both the applicant and for the media in defending these orders.

“It is wrong to have a system whereby people can buy the sort of justice they want. That is a contravention of clause 29 of Magna Carta 1297, which is still in force.”

(Source: MediaGuardian)

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