The problems with injunctions

Holly Rouse, Director in our Corporate team takes a look at the problem with media injunctions in today’s connected world.


Barring a Supreme Court Appeal being upheld, you and I will know by the end of the week (if you don’t already) who the celebrity is behind the injunction fiasco which has dominated the papers for the last month or so.

Unless you’ve been in hiding, you’ll know that the media has been up in arms about its inability to publish the story behind a celebrity extra-marital ‘threesome’. A judge placed an injunction on the media in England and Wales after ruling that the story appearing in the media could be seen by the celebrities children, having a damaging affect.

In this day and age of social media and the internet, however, news doesn’t stay unreported for long. Newspapers and magazines in America, Canada, Sweden and Scotland reported the celebrity names, alongside a host of well-known websites (Guido Fawkes among them) who aren’t covered by the injunction.

Pretty much anyone wanting to know who was behind the celebrity story could easily do so. This only served to make a mockery of the original injunction and provoke the wrath of the British press who have refused to let the story drop.

An injunction that was meant to stop the story from coming out, has actually only served to keep it in the news for longer than anyone would have anticipated (names or no names). While everyone has the right to a private life, there are times when it doesn’t actually pay (in the literal sense of the word as well) to silence the media.

If the celebrities in question had approached this like a classic comms crisis – transparency and immediacy being the critical elements of any response – then the story would have probably been tabloid fodder for a couple of days at best.

Instead, by placing a ban on media reporting they’ve only sort to keep the story in the public eye and to ensure that if the injunction is lifted today the media will undoubtedly go to town with its coverage.

People and companies needs to understand that the media is borderless. You need to work with it, not against it. It’s the media’s job to report stories and to give the public information (celebrity gossip included) – and while in recent years it hasn’t always done this ethically – we should relish an uncensored press and the freedom of speech.