Today Sir Fred Goodwin (former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland before the crash) has been named as one of the people who has a super injunction to prevent details about his life been discussed in the media; though anyone who uses the internet as a source for news has known about it for weeks. But it does seem to me that the current law is in danger of falling into disrepute.
I’m not a lawyer but as a theologian I do not see that moral virtue needs hiding; rather the details that people seek to keep private relate primarily to moral vice. For the most part these injunctions appear to relate to the ethical conduct of specific (wealthy male) individuals, though some are companies seeking to keep their dubious behaviour out of the public eye.
The defence for them appears to be the right to privacy; the notion being that people are entitled to conduct their affairs in private without it becoming public knowledge. It seems to me reasonable that people have some entitlement to be treated properly without harassment, entrapment or details of their lives being obtained by subterfuge; they should also reasonably expect that routine details of their lives and those of their family will not be reported. The difficulty appears to arise when their private actions are at odds with their public image and the details that they wish to keep private are things they wish to hide from public knowledge out of concern for their reputation.
Most of us have said and done things which we wouldn’t want spread across newspapers but are fortunate that our lives our of no interest to the mainstream media. I’m in no doubt that the media should not be allowed to report things which are disputed and where there is no corroborating evidence and I can see the difficulty where something is published which is then found to be untrue.
The basic issue remains one of character and virtue, of law and ethics. In essence a politican who cheats on his/her spouse is demonstrating their lack of virtue, a footballer or actor who has an affair should not be allowed to claim the moral high ground and stop the other person from discussing their relationship. The law rightly protects those who are vulnerable (and one superinjunction covers such a situation) but super injunctions which prevent knowledge of injunctions being reported damage trust in the law and should not be issued.