The Top Gear presenter and newspaper columnist Jeremy Clarkson yesterday dramatically lifted an injunction he had taken out to prevent his ex-wife writing about his personal life.
The gagging order has been in place for a year to prevent Alexandra Hall writing about her past relationship with the presenter but yesterday Clarkson applied to the High Court to have it lifted.
Last night he told The Independent: "I've overturned my own injunction – how cool is that? Injunctions don't work, they're completely pointless and unbelievably expensive. And due to a new interpretation of the law you might have to go to trial if you take an injunction out and that's even more expensive.
"I thought 'Just let her run about saying what she wants to say' and people can say 'I believe that or I don't believe it'. Either way it makes no difference to me, it's as simple as that. Frankly I've got more important things to worry about than a woman I was married to for five minutes 30 years ago. So now I have no stress of an injunction and I can look Ian Hislop in the eye."
Another BBC journalist, Andrew Marr, dropped an injunction he had taken out over reporting of an extra-marital affair after the order was challenged by Mr Hislop, the editor of Private Eye.
After the lifting of that injunction in April, Marr said: "I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists. Am I embarrassed by it? Yes. Am I uneasy about it? Yes. But at the time there was a crisis in my marriage and I believed there was a young child involved. I also had my own family to think about, and I believed this story was nobody else's business. I still believe there was, under those circumstances, no legitimate public interest in it."
Clarkson's injunction banned any reporting of "sexual or other intimate acts or dealings" between him and Ms Hall and of the presenter's "private thoughts and feelings, his health and other financial affairs". Ms Hall was married to Clarkson, 51, for a year in 1989. The Clarksons have three teenage children. Earlier this year Clarkson wrote at length in his newspaper column about his solitary existence in London.
Several high-profile figures have taken out injunctions this year, including Chelsea and England footballer John Terry. His super-injunction preventing the reporting of an alleged affair was overturned after the judge decided Terry's primary concern had been to protect his reputation with his commercial sponsors, rather than his privacy.
Top hearsay: How Fleet Street hinted at the truth
Private Eye, 21 January 2011
"I think we have arrived at the stage now where you actually can be busted for heresy by thought, which is terrifying," announced Jeremy Clarkson when asked about the Andy Gray and Richard Keys row. It certainly is. Almost as terrifying as another recent development, that of individuals being threatened with imprisonment, fines or having their assets seized if they write about, or talk to journalists about, their own private lives. But that is exactly what has happened with the recent rash of super-injunctions brought by rich and powerful individuals against former sexual partners. Will Clarkson extend his concern for the right to free speech to campaigning on their behalf?"
Max Davidson in the Daily Telegraph, 1 June 2011, on Clarkson's new 'bachelor pad'
"So man-up, Jeremy. If you spend too long sitting on the floor feeling sorry for yourself, you may end up as a minor comic character in a super-injunction. Better to take control of your life and make that Bayswater flat a thing of beauty, not a crash-pad."
Michael Deacon in the Daily Telegraph, 17 May 2011
"Clarkson says he is in favour of super-injunctions. Among columnists, this makes him almost unique. Rather than complain, perhaps newspapers should impose super-injunctions of their own. These would consist of a private agreement, between all papers, never to run any story about a celebrity who has taken out a gagging order."