Saturday, 16 April 2016

Sex and celebrity, politicians and censorship

Photo: Fair use

The media has been full of talk about an unnamed celebrity couple who apparently have been in some kind of sexual tryst and have taken out an injunction to prevent the publication of their names. Trouble is it only covers England and Wales, so the rest of the world including Scotland and Ireland know who these people are.

The Times reported today (no link£) that this injunction may be lifted:

Lord Justice Jackson added that those interested in the identities of the people protected "already know" who they are.

The judge, with two other Court of Appeal judges, will rule on Monday on whether to left the injunction because of the widespread publicity of the case in the past week, including in the US, in Scotland and on social media.

As Lord Justice Jackson commented:

The question is: can the injunction stand in the new world?

Quite. I'm not particularly interested (though that may change depending who the celebrities are) but the law seems ridiculous if it cannot be enforced. The whole world knows except those of us who live in jolly old England & Wales.

At most this will become a headline in the tabloids and food for gossip down the pub, and then be forgotten. The world will move on.

Photo: By Cee Dee Media and Productions

Of more concern is the self imposed censorship surrounding Tory Minister John Whittingdale and his relationship with a young lady who turned out to be some kind of "escort" or dominatrix. Now the problem is Mr Whittingdale also happens to be the Minister responsible for the press and one cannot help but feel the papers held back out of fear. After all there has been much pressure to regulate the press over the last couple of years.

Being single who Whittingdale dates is his own affair, but the fact that his girlfriends profession could (and did) cause him (and the government) embarrassment could have led to blackmail and scandal. We've had a lot of these over the years with the Profumo affair being the most fans.

In this case public exposure is probably in the public interest and more so since it took quite an effort by Private Eye and others to bring this into the open. The question arising from this case is how much else do the press know that they are not telling us?

The celebrities claim they are "protecting their children". More likely they are protecting their hard won public image as family friendly. They got caught doing something embarrassing. Tough but their decision to go for an injunction has probably prolonged the story (it's bee around since January) and there will now be much more public interest than before.

But frankly it's tough. You put yourself in the public eye, you take the good with the bad.

The difficulty faced between private and public is obvious in the age of Twitter, Face book and the like, but it does have an advantage.

Politicians can still be exposed and keeping the web free for comment and dissemination of information is a priority. The politicians haven't quite learned to control it.


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