January 30, 2010
Occasionally, you come across a story that while “sports flavoured”, is actually about something with a wider social impact, the recent travails of John Terry is such a story.
Let’s first of all, discuss the sporting aspect of the Terry saga, despite what our moralising press print today; his place in the England squad isn’t under threat. It’s harsh to say it, but Wayne Bridge isn’t important enough to warrant such a drastic result. If Terry had played away with Colleen or Victoria Beckham then maybe Terry’s place would be jeopardised, but it’s only our second choice left back, so really, who cares? From a sporting perspective, it doesn’t matter what Terry does with anybody, as long as he’s able to play for 90 minutes without keeling over in an asthmatic heap.
The really interesting aspect of John Terry’s misfortune is the so called “Super Injunction” that he’d applied for. For those of us who aren’t so media minded, let me give you a brief rundown of what a super injunction actually is. Basically, it’s like a super charged gagging order placed on the press to prevent even the reporting of an injunction taking place or any details relating to it. They first came to the attention of the public when the oil trading company Trafigura had been accused of charting a ship which had dumped toxic waste in the port of Abidjan in the Cote d’Ivoire. The super injunction was used to prevent the reporting of an official internal report by Trafigura into the dumping. So all encompassing is the super injunction, you aren’t even supposed to know that one has taken effect. Indeed, the only reason we knew of this one is because it was referred to in a question in the House of Commons, which are traditionally protected from our libel laws.
Mr Justice Tugendhat repaired a lot of the damage Mr Justice Eady caused to the presses in lifting this injunction. You might remember Mr Justice Eady as being the man who found in favour of Max Moseley following the alleged Nazi BDSM orgies he took part in. Eady’s ruling effectively stopped the presses, already losing income from falling circulations, from wanting to take the risk of running contentious stories.
The point isn’t John Terry, who he puts it in and when, it isn’t about his endorsements or about the fact that he is celebrity dad of the year for 2009 (according to a survey conducted by Daddies sauce). No, it’s about freedom of the presses, one of the very cornerstones of a civilised society.
Mr Justice Tugendhat, I and a thousand journalists salute you.