Mark Steel: It's the wrong people doing the gagging

Share
Related Topics

You can understand why some tabloid newspapers are upset about these super-injunctions. Because when they write something about a footballer with a prostitute it's almost the only time they print a story that's true. Then it turns out that's the article they're not allowed to publish. How is that fair?

The editors must think: "We try to be good and look where it gets us. Now we'll have to print 'Asylum-seeker buggers kitten' again instead." For example, one story that began in The Sun but pops up in other papers, is that a Muslim bus driver ordered his passengers off his bus so he could pray. This turned out to be completely made-up and The Sun was ordered to pay £30,000 compensation, which probably stopped it from following this up with: "Muslim bus driver takes Luton Hopper to Mecca. Instead of stopping at the Town Hall as usual, he insisted on driving his packed bus full of pensioners on to Islam's holy city, then charged the bewildered passengers an extra two pounds each, saying Saudi Arabia fell outside of Zone 3 meaning their tickets weren't valid." So if bus drivers, rather than TV presenters and sportsmen, could take out super-injunctions, that story wouldn't have been printed and The Sun would have saved 30,000 quid.

Or judges should have the power to force The Sun to make up an equally ridiculous story such as: "Christian hospital authorities have told doctors they can no longer refer to patients as 'stable', as this demeans the birthplace of our Lord Jesus Christ. From now on they must declare the patient is 'up shit creek but hanging on'."

Super-injunctions could be taken out by Pacific islands that are slowly sinking, every time the front page of the Daily Express says something like :"It's Official! Global Warming Is Cobblers!" A professor from Peckham said yesterday: "If it's getting hotter, how come it's warmer in the day than what it is at night, which comes after the day? Go on then, answer me that."

Instead, these papers have made-up stories about asylum-seekers stealing the Queen's swans and funding whole towns back home by begging, and all this could be prevented if the price of the legal action came down. Then the beggars could sit outside with a plastic cup, mumbling "Got 30 pence for a super-injunction?" and stop the nonsense from appearing.

How much embarrassment the press would be spared if they could be stopped from making up stories about councils banning black bin-liners and making kids sing "Baa Baa Green sheep", and articles that start: "Now a local council in Manchester has banned the letter 'W' on grounds of health and safety." One paper has a page of stories every week, with a catchphrase: "You couldn't make it up". But the writer doesn't give himself the credit he deserves because he DOES make them up. So we should make super-injunctions affordable, and he'd be free to write something vaguely true.

Some newspaper editors defend printing whatever they like, on grounds such as: "It is very much in the public interest that we are free to make up stories about people we don't like. The moment you take away the public's right to be lied to, you might as well live in North Korea, which is to be twinned with a primary school in Hackney, say council officials from the barmy borough." So there should be "super-injunctions for all". Maybe we could all be given three a year, the way tennis players are allowed three challenges against the umpire.

Having said that, you couldn't help notice Jemima Khan was much quicker to stop the rumour on Twitter about her and Jeremy Clarkson, than Jeremy Clarkson. You can only assume one of them was going: "Uuuuugh no, put a stop to that thought NOW", while the other was thinking: "Hmm, I might let this run a few hours and pretend I haven't noticed."



React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate / Junior C# Developer

£18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Teaching Assistant - Shropshire

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teaching Assistants needed in Shropshi...

Junior/Trainee Buiness Intelligence (BI) Consultant

£30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior/Trainee Business Intelligen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside  

Autumn’s subtle charm is greatly enhanced by this Indian summer

Michael McCarthy
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits