Schillings Backlash: Injunction Industry Under FireParliament Should Define Privacy Limitations

The Schillings backlash has commenced in full, the tabloids are splashing on front page stories about Schillings’ losing clients with gusto. Schillings lost a case about Gordon Ramsey’s father-in-law yesterday to The Sun, over a case originally taken out by Schillings against Guido’s virtual mother, Popbitch, rubbing more salt into Schillings’ wounds.

The make-up of the recent Lord Neuberger Committee on super-injunctions – set up to investigate the supposed “need for a privacy law” – included lawyers involved in making their millions from the injunction industry; Rod Christie-Miller, CEO of Schillings, and Alasdair Pepper, a Carter-Ruck partner, argued their case successfully.

Privacy law is based on the European Convention on Human Rights which was formulated in the 1950s,  Article 8 enshrined an individual’s right to a private and family life at a time when totalitarianism stalked Europe. Millions were oppressed, the rights of shagging celebrities were not foremost in the drafter’s minds. It was envisaged to protect individuals from the state.

Lord Wakeham, a former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, argues this morning that the the Human Rights Act could be amended, rather than just repealed:-

“..possibly by limiting the role of the Courts to dealing with issues that impact only on public authorities and the State (as the drafters of the Convention envisaged). That would leave the media outside the direct supervision of the Courts on privacy issues and enable the PCC – which can react much more swiftly to changes in newspaper technology than the law will ever be able to do so – to reassert its primacy in this area, as Parliament always intended.”

In Ireland the ECHR was incorporated into the constitution only in 2006, Irish judges so far have taken the Wakeham view, correctly in Guido’s opinion, that Article 8 is to protect individuals from unlawful privacy violations by the state and agencies of the state. It protects individuals only from journalists who use illegal means; hacking, stealing photos, sneaking onto private property and similar. It has not so far been used to hide the embarrassment of adulterous politicians and footballers. That is how Article 8 should be properly interpreted and parliament should make the law explicitly clear.

A few years ago an Irish High Court judge gave Carter-Ruck’s representatives short shrift and a bollocking over an application they made for a gagging-injunction against a certain charming, cheeky Irish blogger on behalf of a rich British politician and his socialite freedom of speech campaigner sister. For legal reasons Guido can’t say any more…




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