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Communications Privacy The Courts Twitter United Kingdom

Twitter Sued By British Soccer Player 264

norriefc writes "Here in the UK super injunctions are all the rage. These are injunctions that bar the press from even mentioning that the injunctions exist. Recently a Twitter account exposed several of these super injunctions and named several people involved and what their alleged indiscretions were. Now one 'famous' soccer player is trying to sue Twitter and the yet to be named tweeters for invasion of privacy, apparently in ignorance of the Streisand effect. I'm doubtful of an American company paying much attention to UK anti-free-speech laws"
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Twitter Sued By British Soccer Player

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  • Re:Streisand effect (Score:5, Informative)

    by Relyx ( 52619 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @05:23AM (#36200540)

    Just search [] on Twitter for Imogen Thomas, the girl he had his affair with. His name will likely pop up in the first few tweets.

  • Re:Ryan Giggs (Score:4, Informative)

    by troc ( 3606 ) <troc AT mac DOT com> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @05:25AM (#36200552) Homepage Journal

    I'm fairly certain that 'allegedly' is unnecessary in this case. i.e it's Ryan Giggs, definitely. :p

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 21, 2011 @05:46AM (#36200622)

    Let's see if this makes the Guinness Book of World Records for "Shortest time a case lasted in court until being thrown out."

    Twitter is a social networking site. If I had people talking trash about me on their Facebook wall, it would make no sense at all to sue Facebook because of what that person said.

    Assuming CTB is Ryan Giggs (which is a popular belief) then's he's certainly not short of cash. (The Evening Standard has his net worth at £22 million -

    I think the only reason it'll be thrown out is that Twitter is not UK based. If it were, then as it exercises some editorial control (i.e. removes spam and illegal comments on request) it's viewed as a publisher and therefore is treated the same as a newspaper and would fall foul of our (super)injuction laws.

    I run a big football (soccer for the septics) site/forum (thankfully not connected to Ryan Giggs) and there is (we're told on very good authority) a super-injunction placed by one of the club's owners. Not being mainstream media, we've no legitimate way of finding out the details of the injunction, yet we can be prosecuted if one of our forum members publishes the allegations.

    The law in the UK surrounding citizen journalism and internet discussion is an absolute ass. Value your constitutionally protected freedom of speech

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 21, 2011 @05:46AM (#36200626)

    Not likely. The SPEECH Act of 2010 was designed to prevent this. Anyone who tries to sue in a US court in a way that is designed to squelch free speech can be subject to damages. Since it would be a civil rights case, the damages could be tripled if I recall correctly.

  • by Panoptes ( 1041206 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @05:48AM (#36200634)
    As I understand it, the site in question is not being sued - they're being bullied into revealing the identies of the Twits who made the posts.
  • by Winckle ( 870180 ) <> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @05:54AM (#36200658) Homepage

    See title, tag the story so no one misses it :D

  • by Winckle ( 870180 ) <> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @06:20AM (#36200744) Homepage

    The "unnamed" soccer player in the news story. He's a veteran player for Manchester United and formerly played internationally for Wales.

  • Can someone clarify (Score:4, Informative)

    by funkatron ( 912521 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @06:25AM (#36200762)
    Is Ryan Giggs suing for privacy or for libel? Basically, is he confirming the story?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 21, 2011 @06:29AM (#36200784)

    Nothing to do with infections. It's cockney rhyming slang.
    septics == septic tanks == yanks

    Australians often say 'seppos' too, stands for 'septic (tanks)'.

  • by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @06:58AM (#36200878) Journal

    Plenty of info on Wikipedia too. I'm glad they stuck to their promise and didn't censor.

    Ryan Giggs gagging order []

    The comments about him being skint are laughable. He plays for Man Utd - one of the richest teams in the world.

    England's worst kept secret.

  • by Nick Ives ( 317 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:00AM (#36200886)

    Not being mainstream media, we've no legitimate way of finding out the details of the injunction, yet we can be prosecuted if one of our forum members publishes the allegations.

    I thought that in order to be bound by an injunction, you had to be served it?

    As I understand it, every time a superinjunction is issued it gets sent out to a massive number of media organisations telling them that there is an injunction that they can't report on, but not revealing what the injunction is about. That's how everyone in the media knows which injunctions they can't report on.

  • Re:Quandary (Score:3, Informative)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:01AM (#36200888) Journal
    Super injunctions are actually fairly new, and on the whole, people don't really understand them.

    To the best of my knowledge, the law says that people are entitled to their privacy. If you violate his privacy then you may well be liable for damages caused by that breach. It's up to the court to decide whether they were entitled to privacy and whether you violated it.

    Unlike the US, the courts can apply prior restraint. That is, if a publication is going to breach privacy, you can get a court injunction preventing them from doing so. Violating this is contempt of court and so punishable as such. Of course this would implicitly allow a workaround where the media implicitly reveals details by revealing that the celebrity has applied for an injunction, so the injunction has language explicitly preventing that.

    If you genuinely aren't aware there's an injunction then it doesn't actually apply to you and you can only be sued for damages after the fact. If you are aware (and it seems pretty certain that you are aware) then revealing this is contempt of court.
  • Re:Free Speech (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nick Ives ( 317 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:05AM (#36200900)

    Because it could make business in the EU problematic. If a foreign media organisation were to be found in contempt of court (in this case impossible as I doubt Geeknet Inc. has been served with this injunction) then the company directors could become the subject of a European Arrest Warrant.

    It's the same reason that libel tourism is so popular; unless you have no intention of entering or doing business in the EU, you need to abide by the rules of our courts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:10AM (#36200924)

    The UK doesn't have any anti free speech laws. It has laws against Libel and Slander, and there are some european laws on privacy that the UK courts are inerpreting in a rather broad manner to give rise to these superinjunctions. I suspect Twitter will just tell the UK lawyers to go to a US court first, and it'll stop there.

  • Re:Naming (Score:1, Informative)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:15AM (#36200938) Journal
    True, but hardly anyone actually calls it that because it's a silly name for a game where you don't use your feet.
  • by Phreakiture ( 547094 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:25AM (#36200958) Homepage

    Obvious only to those familiar with Cockney rhyming slang [], which is going to be an extreme minority in the US.

    Go on, click the link and have a butcher's.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:51AM (#36201040)

    The footballer in question (I'm in the UK and I will take no part in mentioning of names), obtained a UK court injunction stopping his name from being published, under UK privacy laws. There has been no mention of libel, but under UK law you have a right to privacy from the press. Although this is only the case if you are rich and can afford such injunctions.

    A famous welsh footballer who has played professionally for the same top club for 21 years, winning 12 Premier League titles and two UEFA Champions League titles could certainly afford such an injunction.

  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @08:10AM (#36201100)
    no, a footballer who cannot be named has sued Twitter. It may or may not be him, but he's relying on the injunction to keep his real name off the court papers...
  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @08:14AM (#36201108)
    The name you are looking for is 'Ryan Giggs'
  • by igb ( 28052 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @09:29AM (#36201354)

    There are no privacy laws in the UK, which is at the heart of the dispute. Judges are making caselaw out of the Human Rights Act, and therefore the European Convention on Human Rights. The balance between article eight privacy and article ten freedom of expression is unclear, and because European caselaw isn't incorporated into UK caselaw, and anyway there isn't very much of it, this is all pretty unexplored.

    What's happened now is not that his lawyers are suing Twitter as a defendant, they're trying to get a Norwich Pharmacal order against Twitter. That's an order that says "I want to sue someone, and you have information that is important to that action". It doesn't injunct Twitter, and wouldn't even if they were a UK company, it merely demands they hand over information they have. It's going to be a car-crash, because Twitter don't (and don't need to) authenticate users, IP numbers have already been found to be insufficient evidence of identity as part of the ACS:Law debacle, and as others have pointed out there's US legislation (SPEECH Act?) which makes assisting overseas censorship an offence for a California company. "CTG"'s lawyers (like we don't know who it really is) appear to think the Streisand effect is a good thing.

  • Re:England (Score:4, Informative)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @11:33AM (#36202022)

    It's vanishingly unlikely a monarch would refuse to give royal assent. The last time it happened was 1707.

The absent ones are always at fault.