Clarke backs privacy law amid injunction 'concern'

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The Independent Online

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has indicated that a new privacy law could be introduced to provide judges with clearer guidance on issuing injunctions.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Mr Clarke spoke of the "increasing concern" over the use of injunctions, but insisted there "are areas of privacy where an individual is entitled to have it protected".

"We will consider these matters and indeed it is probably right to say that Parliament passing a Privacy Act might well be the best way of resolving it," he said. "But I think we need to get somewhat nearer to a consensus and one needs to know exactly how you're trying to strike this balance before something is submitted to the judgment of Parliament."

Mr Clarke was responding to a question from Labour MP Sadiq Khan, who asked him to provide "clarity and guidance" to British judges.

Mr Clarke had said previously that the Government had "no plans" to introduce a privacy law, and Prime Minister David Cameron said recently he was "uneasy" about the increasing use of such injunctions.

The debate on gagging orders has intensified in recent weeks after a number of injunctions were revealed on Twitter. Lawyers suggested the injunctions were undermined by people using social networking sites to identify some of the people involved.

One of the most high-profile gagging orders involves former Big Brother star Imogen Thomas, who is at the centre of an injunction preventing the identity of a Premiership footballer with whom she had an affair being made public.

In an interview yesterday, Ms Thomas said she had been tempted to identify the footballer after being left to deal with the press attention on her own. "I'm so upset by what I've been called. I've been so tempted just to say 'yeah, it's that person'. Because why should I be taking all this flak and him get away with everything," she said.