Max Clifford attacks use of injunctions

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The Independent Online

Max Clifford has hit out at the increasing use of injunctions to protect the rich and famous from having their indiscretions revealed in the media.

The PR guru criticised the growing willingness of judges to grant privacy orders to those with the means to pay for it, describing it as undemocratic.

His comments came as several hearings were held in the High Court today over so-called gagging orders banning reporting of the activities, behaviour or private behaviour of various public figures.

Clifford is representing Imogen Thomas - a former Big Brother contestant whose alleged affair with a married Premier League star is the subject of a gagging order.

Despite making his living from helping celebrities avoid adverse publicity, Clifford deplored their ability to pay their way out of scandal in a way that "ordinary people" could not.

"The privacy of the rich and famous seems to be exactly what the courts are determined to achieve," he said.

"What we've got in this country now is a privacy law that wasn't brought in by Parliament but the judges have decided what they want and that's what they've achieved.

"Sometimes the privacy of the rich and famous - or anyone - does deserve to be protected but only the rich can afford this so it's purely a law to protect the rich and in a democracy that's not right."

Speaking at his Surrey home this afternoon, he told how the nature of his damage limitation work has changed in recent years.

To stop negative stories coming out in the past he worked with the papers and gave them an alternative story to run, he said.

"Now all I've done is pick up the phone to the lawyer and (the client) has spent £30,000, £40,000, £50,000 and got an injunction," he said.

This made his job simpler, he admitted, although he disagreed with the practice.

Newspapers, struggling financially and fighting for survival, were likely to put great pressure on politicians to make injunctions a thing of the past, he predicted.

"The secrets of the rich and famous sell papers," he said.

Ms Thomas felt betrayed and let down by the injunction brought by the footballer, which meant her identity can be revealed but his cannot, he added.

She never had any intention to kiss and tell, he insisted, adding: "She genuinely was in love with him and she genuinely believed he was in love with her."