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Posts Tagged ‘ECHR’

After the events of today, it would seem not.

John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley stood up in the House of Commons and announced who the Premiership footballer “CTB”, who had an affair with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas is. This was done whilst protected by the right of Parliamentary Privilege, and the right to be free from litigation from comments made in the House of Commons that are recorded in Hansard. This right is an aincent right, extending back to Article 9 the Bill of Rights (1689), which gives the following right:

“freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament”

The Parliamentary Papers Act (1840) provides that:

“It shall and may be lawful for any person or persons who now is or are, or hereafter shall be, a defendant or defendants in any civil or criminal proceeding commenced or prosecuted in any matter soever, for or on account or in respect of the publication of any such report, paper, votes, or proceedings by such person or persons, or by his, her, or their servant or servants, by or under the authority of either House of Parliament”

This, in turn, provides protection for those who report on the proceedings of Parliament. That allows the BBC and Sky  to report on what Mr Hemming said in the House of Commons.

It would seem that the footballers right to privacy, which is a qualified right under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

“Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

In my opinion, this provides the right for the footballer “CTB” to have privacy. The only qualification which may apply here, the protection of other peoples rights, and their freedom of speech is set out in Article 10 of the ECHR:

Article 10 – Freedom of expression

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

For me, revealing the private life of a footballer, who is of little significance to public life and  does not trade on their “family” image is a clear breach of their right to privacy.

John Hemming made the announcement in the House of Commons, where there is not right of appeal, or right to be heard in your own defense against claims such as this. By announcing it in public, and allowing it to be reported in the national press, he has exposed the claims to a much wider audience. The BBC suggest that 75,000 people have named the footballer name on Twitter. Compare that to the number who will now be exposed to this information – 58 million people live in England and Wales. This takes the story to a whole new level of media hype.

The High Court has again rejected an application to have the injunction lifted. Mr Justice Eady said that:

“[The Court’s duty] remains to try and protect the claimant, and particularly his family, from intrusion and harassment so long as it can”

In the absence of Parliaments intent being shown in an Act which enumerates a right to privacy in circumstances such as these, it is absolutely right that the High Court should seek to protect the footballer “CTB”.

Mr Hemming’s attack on the rule of law, and the principle that all obey it, shows the depths that some politicians will go to get publicity.

“Normal” people have a right to privacy.

Why do those who the media wish to pursue not have that same right that we enjoy?

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