The sinister scenario emerged yesterday when it was revealed a TV personality was facing jail for repeating the name of an England footballer with a privacy injunction.
If the media personality is named in any trial for contempt of court then the footballer’s injunction will be effectively broken. So if judges are to keep to the terms of the injunction the trial is meant to protect, he cannot be named."
"The Kafka-esque twist in the privacy law row comes after a judge acted on complaints from the footballer’s lawyers. They protested his gagging order had been broken by the media celebrity on Twitter. Yesterday they were warned that any move to imprison someone while keeping their identity secret would be ‘absolutely against the principles of open justice.’
The complaint could end in a test-case trial for contempt of court and a range of possible punishments, from a minor fine up to imprisonment."
"However at present the individual cannot be named, because to do so would be to break the footballer’s privacy injunction.
Although his Twitter postings which identified the footballer have been taken down, they have been copied by other websites and there is easily-discovered internet speculation linking the celebrity with the footballer. "
"No one is thought to have been sentenced and punished by English courts for centuries without being publicly named.
In the recent past a number of foreign terrorist suspects who were unnamed have been held in prison. But their detention, which was stopped after a House of Lords ruling, did not follow trial and conviction, and they would have been released at any time if they had agreed to be deported.
They could also have allowed their names to be published if they had wished. The celebrity named the married footballer, who is alleged to have had an affair, in tweets during a recent notable football match. A series of messages joked at the player’s expense."
"Thursday Mr Justice Tugendhat agreed to refer the celebrity’s behaviour to the Attorney General, who must decide whether to bring a prosecution for contempt. It was the first time a judge has sent an alleged breach of a privacy injunction for consideration for a contempt prosecution."