Exclusive: 'Judges made me a non-person'

Woman who had long relationship with public figure tells <i>IoS</i> how she was stripped of her rights
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The Independent Online

An unnamed subject of a controversial privacy injunction today attacks the judges and legal system which favour philandering men and threaten with jail women who try to speak out. In an exclusive article for The Independent on Sunday, the woman, who had a long and serious relationship with a well-known public figure, claims the injunctions are a form of "bullying by the rich and the powerful" and a "back-door way to silence misdeeds when an open justice system should be in place". It is no coincidence, she writes, that injunctions are granted in favour of men and "sanctioned by a largely male-dominated judiciary".

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says she had no legal representation when she was injuncted and accused of blackmail after telling Mr Ex, as she refers to him, that she planned to write her life story. "I had no intention of revealing any salacious details," she insists.

Despite never breaking the law beyond minor driving offences, she says she now has a jail threat hanging over her because Mr Ex "wanted to keep his name out of the papers". She became aware of the gagging order only after being emailed late at night. The email demanded to know whom she had spoken to and threatened her with jail if she did not respond. She says: "As the recipient of this anonymous gagging order, I have become a defendant. I have no name. I have no voice. I am referred to as a set of initials. Who am I? I can't tell you, because if I do I could have a jail term for contempt of court. I'm a nobody. I don't count.

"I had no say in whether this order should be put in place. I wasn't given the opportunity to put my point across. If I want a voice I have to spend huge amounts of money to prove that I have a right to freedom of expression. In an inversion of this country's judicial tradition, I am guilty until proven innocent."

The woman stresses that she does not agree with "kiss and tell" stories. "I did not wish to dish out salacious dirt, only to tell my life story – and the impact Mr Ex's fame has had on my and my family's life. My motive was entirely cathartic. Why should I not be allowed to publish?"

She praised David Cameron for his criticism last week of judges granting gagging orders "to deliver a sort of privacy law without Parliament saying so". Men who have affairs must take responsibility for the results of their actions, she insists. "A miscreant can't squeal like a pig after the event, claiming their world is threatened, when they have taken no responsibility for their actions before." Injunctions were the legal equivalent of the morning-after pill, she warned.

She says the victims of gagging orders should join forces and speak out as one but recognises they risk jail if they do so. Although there are two sides to every story, in her case only one side was allowed to tell theirs. She writes: "The other has to shut up for fear of jail."

In speaking out, she has become one of the few to have come forward. She joins women such as Vanessa Perroncel, who found herself pursued by media after she was accused of having an affair with the footballer John Terry. Ms Perroncel, in an interview with The IoS, said her reputation was damaged as a result of the injunction. She said news organisations should be free to report genuine cases of infidelity.

Other subjects of injunctions include Imogen Thomas, a model, whose identity was revealed when the details of the injunction were varied to permit her being named but not the married footballer she had had an affair with.

Helen Wood, a former sex worker linked to the footballer Wayne Rooney, was identified after an injunction connecting her with other famous clients was challenged. She remains barred from revealing other male clients.