Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Ryan Giggs and privacy law in the UK

I have to say that until he was named in the House of Commons yesterday, I had never heard of Ryan Giggs. I'm afraid football is that far below my personal horizon. And of course I naturally couldn't give a monkey's about his footballing career, nor even the standing and fate of his club, Manchester United. (I hasten to remark that, unlike my ignorance of Giggs, I have been aware of Manchester United for many a long year. I'm not that much out of touch. I've even heard of  Manchester City)

Well, should I give a monkey's about his wish for privacy enforced through legal injunctions on application to the High Court?

On the one hand, we all want adequate privacy. You don't have to be a star footballer. Merely being trans makes privacy desirable. You don't want tabloid newsapapers picking that up and hounding you for a salacious story, and you don't want to be the subject of a nationwide whisper campaign on Twitter or Facebook. If you have to be out and proud, you want to control it all yourself.

It's actually a fact of life that most of us will enjoy far more privacy and obscurity than we might wish for, because our lives are dull and boring and simply not newsworthy. We hardly need laws to protect us, or injunctions to resort to - even if we could afford the legal costs. Nobody will be interested in what we do or say. (What a happy situation to be in. Anonymity is priceless)

Celebrities (and really anyone in the public eye) can't hope for such comfort. Public comment goes with a public presence. And some public comment is surely fair and justified. In particular, if someone breaks the law, or there is a serious moral transgression, why shouldn't the facts immediately be made public? I dare say that legal bods will tut-tut about that, and talk of prejudiced juries and unfair trials, but wrongdoing is wrongdoing, and if anybody is discovered in breach of the law - statute, common or moral - why shouldn't they be talked about, and even accused?

Sometimes you get the feeling that without a fuss being made, without a general discussion, nothing at all would be done to look into the matter.

By the way, I don't tweet.

3 comments:

  1. All the stuff about Twitter became suddenly very silly when a quirk of history allowed the Sunday Herald here in Scotland to publish. Funny thing that different legal systems with (almost) common media

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  2. If the law has been broken then I actually think that the law should be that you get privacy until after you have been found guilty. A false claim could destroy someones life, and simply being found guilty does not help.

    When it just comes to moral transgressions however I don't see the issue. These people make huge sums of money by being in the public eye. You want the good, take the bad as well.

    I haven't read the claims, and don't intend to, but I to me the whole episode has just made him look bad. If it had come out in the paper I probably wouldn't have known. As it is everyone knows, and he has the stigma of being the pretentious footballer who wanted the injunction to top it off!

    Stace

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  3. It became a bit of a joke. Whilst everyone is entitled to privacy. The fact that it was probably the worst kept secret and yet Giggs still attempted to sue the ordinary person, made the whole situation an overblown farce.

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