Special report:

The untold story of gagging orders

Hundreds of other reporting restrictions remain in force, and the public knows next to nothing about them

The extent of court privacy injunctions in British public life and the media can be revealed today after an analysis by The Independent found that more than 333 gagging orders protecting the identities of celebrities, children and private individuals have been granted in the past five years.

As the ramifications of the naming in Parliament of footballer Ryan Giggs continued to fuel the debate over injunctions, MPs renewed calls for the Ministry of Justice to begin collating figures for the number of privacy orders being granted in Britain's courts after a senior judge warned that the absence of reliable data was undermining public confidence in the administration of justice.

The secret nature of super-injunctions and other restrictive orders means that no definitive figures exist for the number of rulings currently in force in England and Wales – despite a rash of revelations which has seen a number of high-profile individuals, from the broadcaster Andrew Marr to the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin, unmasked as recipients.

An audit by The Independent has found that at least 264 orders exist which grant anonymity to children or vulnerable adults. But the figures reveal a further 69 cases where injunctions have been granted barring the publication of the names of high-profile individuals, including 28 men accused of extra-marital affairs and nine cases where convicted criminals have been granted anonymity. Courts are ready to issue gagging orders in a wide-ranging and occasionally surprising number of circumstances, including the case of a lawyer accused of possessing a quantity of hardcore pornography and an order preventing disclosure of the identity of a sex change candidate.

The data highlights the importance of anonymity orders, which concern at least six allegations of blackmail, where the victims include a Premier League footballer and a prominent aristocrat.

Orders have also been granted to at least seven major companies, including the publicly owned bank Northern Rock. The orders, some of which are permanent and some temporary, prevent publication of allegations about their commercial affairs.

The true number of anonymised injunctions is likely to be higher but the analysis highlights an alarming gap in public knowledge about the extent to which the courts are granting gagging orders. Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, has said it is "impossible to verify" the number of rulings being handed down which make it a criminal offence to publish certain information about individuals. His report into injunctions on Friday stated: "The absence of evidence has encouraged a view that an entirely secret process has developed in the civil courts, and that this is improper in principle, risks neutering press freedom to report matters of public interest and undermines the public's right to be informed of court proceedings."

A senior MP last night called on the Government to swiftly enforce the report's finding that the Ministry of Justice should start recording how many injunctions containing publicity restrictions are applied for and granted.

John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said: "This is something which we called for a year ago and we have yet to see this information. As a result it is very difficult to know the extent of 'privacy creep' within the courts."

The controversy is set to be raised by David Cameron and other world leaders at a summit in France tomorrow. British government sources confirmed they expected the storm surrounding the naming of Ryan Giggs to be discussed at a meeting of G8 leaders in Deauville, where Nicolas Sarkozy is pressing for tougher regulation of the internet to protect copyright and privacy, though Mr Cameron may be sceptical about how this could be applied. But a UK source said: "The mechanisms of regulation and the hurdles before you intervene are quite high."

Meanwhile, John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who named Mr Giggs, said he was aware of 10 recipients of super-injunctions amid criticism of his decision to use parliamentary privilege to reveal the footballer's identity. He said: "I think in some ways naming Ryan Giggs lances the boil. It has brought the whole issue out in the open, which is where it should be."

The untold story

The 333 gagging orders analysed by The Independent include:

* A footballer alleging blackmail after a group-sex session in a hotel was captured on mobile phone video

* A male celebrity with a disabled son

* At least four child abusers protecting their new identities

* A company accused of pollution

* A member of the public who didn't want the press to report his sex change

* A television personality who received death threats

* A woman who had a laptop containing her sex videos stolen

* A paedophile who gained an injunction prohibiting reporting of his rehabilitation trips

* A football manager who strayed

* A gambling spouse

* A betting company that obtained an injunction against disclosing information about its clients' betting

* A murderer's ex-girlfriend given a new identity – and the psychiatrist who assessed her

* A blackmailed aristocrat

* A "leading actor" who slept with Helen Wood (only she can be named)

* Tens of Premier League footballers who are family men in public but who are in reality promiscuous cheats

* A media personality who denied alcohol addiction

* A sportsman's child who is subject to court proceedings

* An actress whose laptop containing intimate photographs was stolen

* At least half a dozen since unmasked, among them the commodities trader Trafigura, Andrew Marr (who broke his own injunction), Sir Fred Goodwin, John Terry, Ryan Giggs (named in Parliament), and the News of the World's "Fake Sheikh" Mazher Mahmood (the paper tried to stop photos of him from being distributed).

* And hundreds of anonymity orders preventing the media from doing anything that would lead to the identification of children whose parents or carers are accused of murder, child abuse or other crimes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gaming Brand

40,000- 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gam...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum