Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Should a footballer be able to pay for a super injunction?

Graham Fisher in Editorial, General Soccer News 18 May 2011



There has been much talk recently about ‘super injuctions’ issued by the High Court to prevent newspapers printing stories about celebrities and the activities that they wouldn’t want the public to know about. Some of these so called celebrities are footballers. This has raised a huge issue about whether footballers, who use the media to raise their profile, should then be allowed to gag them when they want to print something truthful that the footballer doesn’t want the public to know about.


One of these cases went back to the High Court yesterday as the newspaper and the female in question, tried to get the injunction lifted. The judge, Justice Eady, has reserved judgement on the matter for the time being.

The woman, who strangely can be named, is Imogen Thomas. She is a model who gained a degree of fame as a contestant in Big Brother on British television. She claims that she had a six month long affair with a married footballer.


On 13th April this year Ms Thomas told the unnamed footballer that the Sun newspaper was considering publishing a story about them having an affair for six months. The article would have photographs of her at or near hotels that the footballer was known to be staying in.

On 14th April, the article was published in the Sun, without the player being named.


Justice Eady granted the temporary injunction last month and said Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms applied to the man’s right to privacy in this case and meant that he should not be named. The temporary injunction was issued against News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Sun, and against Ms Thomas to “restrain publication” of the footballer’s identity and further accounts of the relationship.

The footballer made a witness statement at the initial hearing in which he said he met Ms Thomas last September, and two further times in November and December. He also said that Ms Thomas asked for £50,000, which he initially refused to give her. She later increased her request to £100,000. This claim is totally denied by Ms Thomas.


Justice Eady, when granting the injunction said that evidence “appeared strongly to suggest” that the footballer was “being blackmailed”. It seemed that the footballer “may well have been set up” so that photographs could be taken of Ms Thomas going to meet the footballer at hotels where he was staying.

“It seems that the Sun was ready to take advantage of these prearranged meetings in order to be able to put forward the claim that it was The Sun which had found him ‘romping with a busty Big Brother babe’. This is no doubt to give the impression, which Ms Thomas herself may have fostered, that a sexual liaison between them was still continuing in April.”


Ms Thomas was devastated by the judgement.

“I’ve read the judgment and am stunned by how I’m portrayed. Yet again, my name and my reputation are being trashed while the man I had a relationship with is able to hide. What’s more, I can’t even defend myself because I’ve been gagged. Where’s the fairness in this? What about my reputation? If this is the way privacy injunctions are supposed to work, then there’s something seriously wrong with the law.”

I have no idea whether the correct legal process has been followed and I obviously have no idea who out of the unnamed footballer and Ms Thomas are telling the truth. I also do not intend to break the law by speculating on who the unnamed footballer is.


My question is, if a high profile footballer is caught with his pants down, why on earth should he be allowed to pay a fortune to get a court to stop anyone knowing about it?

What do you think? Should the footballer have a right to privacy, or should he suffer the consequences of his actions?


Graham Fisher



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