When I realised I could go to prison just for talking, it hit home how scary anonymity injunctions really are. It's not as if I had mugged someone or been behind some kind of fraud. Yet here I was, with the threat of jail hanging over my head because my "ex" wanted to keep his name out of the papers.
I was frightened, confused and angry that I found myself in this position. How had it come to this? And how come I'd been accused of blackmail?
I still had feelings for the guy, with whom I had enjoyed a long relationship, and had decided to let him know I was planning to tell the story of my life. I thought it was only fair. It was always going to be a difficult telephone call, and I thought I had calmed him down, after his initial pleading, threats and a fair bit of bullying to try and get me to pull the plug. I had no intention of revealing any salacious details. I just wanted to write about what happened between us and the impact on my life. But the mere fact that I was going to write something was enough for him to want to conceal this from the public, and, more importantly, from his family.
So when a text pinged in late at night, which wasn't from Mr Ex, formally alerting me to an email, on reading its contents, I shook. I was the subject of a court injunction which demanded to know to whom I had spoken; I was threatened with jail if I didn't respond through my lawyers within days. I didn't have a lawyer.
As the recipient of this anonymous gagging order, I have become the 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 serve 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.
It's being accused of blackmail that's the worst part. I've never been in trouble with the law, apart from the odd driving offence. Yet I'm having to defend myself, and prove that I didn't blackmail him. Why do the judges take their word for it, without asking me?
The man who won this order considered that to even have my existence made public would be detrimental to his career. But what about my life? What about my rights to freedom of expression?
I have had severe stomach cramps and have been constantly on the verge of tears. I haven't known where to turn. I haven't been able to work.
I think the 30 or so victims of gagging orders should get together and speak as one body, but then these rich and powerful men would have us jailed for daring to talk to each other. What have we got to do? Jump under a horse like a suffragette?
Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but it's no coincidence that all these injunctions are granted in favour of men, and sanctioned by a largely male-dominated judiciary.
Thankfully, David Cameron has attacked the judges who grant gagging orders, telling them it is for Parliament to decide the balance between privacy and press freedom. The Prime Minister expressed unease about the way the judiciary was riding roughshod over the democratic process and using human rights legislation to introduce a privacy law by the back door, allowing judges to decide on a case by case basis.
I don't agree with titillating kiss- and-tell stories. If a man visits a prostitute, the prostitute has a duty of confidentiality, as she is offering a service he has paid for, and in this instance an injunction could be valid. If, however, he has had a sustained relationship with someone, whether he be married or not, then she has a story to tell. She has her views or opinions.
If he is married, he should take responsibility for his actions. 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. Actions have consequences, and if they want to protect their wives and families, then do so, and don't cross the indiscretion line.
What about the worlds of the people they are cheating on? What about the worlds of the people they are gagging? Have they any thought for them? No. It is purely self-interest. An injunction is the equivalent of the morning-after pill. Take precautions if you want to go there, or don't go there at all.
This is a form of bullying from the rich and powerful. It's a back door route to silencing misdeeds when an open justice system should be in place. It's one-sided.
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 almost entirely cathartic. The fact that I might be paid for it would have been a bonus. Why should I not be allowed to publish? It's my life.
There are two sides to every story. In this case, one side is allowed to tell theirs and write seemingly whatever they like without recourse; the other side has to shut up, for fear of jail.
Some people think I should crawl under a rock, but the injustice of being served this injunction has inflamed me to seek justice. Should we "gagees" go quiet, for fear of the outcome? In many cases we don't have the resources or knowledge to fight, so the injunction goes uncontested.
I have committed no crime. I have not committed blackmail. I have not lied. Why should I continue to honour someone who hasn't reciprocated my loyalty, and now has taped my mouth to protect only himself?Reuse content