May 20, 2011 / 12:34 PM / 8 years ago

Footballer sues Twitter in London court - report

LONDON (Reuters) - A footballer is suing Twitter over information published on the messaging website, the BBC reported on Friday, after a top judge published guidance on gagging orders amid tension over privacy and media freedom.

The unnamed player began legal proceedings against the U.S. company at the High Court in London for allegedly carrying information covered by a “super injunction,” the BBC reported.

Spokesmen for Twitter and the British justice ministry had no comment on the report. No one at the court could be reached to confirm that a case had been brought against Twitter.

The report gave no details of the case against Twitter.

David Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, the second most senior judge in England and Wales, said earlier that media outlets should be told in advance about applications for gagging orders against them.

Media groups and politicians have expressed concern about a perceived rise in gagging orders, which they fear could be being used to quash information of genuine public interest rather than as a legitimate tool to protect someone’s privacy.

“Where privacy and confidentiality are involved, a degree of secrecy is often necessary to do justice,” Neuberger told a briefing. “But where secrecy is ordered it should only be to the extent strictly necessary to achieve the interests of justice.”

The use of injunctions, especially super injunctions, has come into sharp focus after politicians used the right to speak freely in parliament to expose an order bought by former bank chief Fred Goodwin, and after messaging site Twitter published names of celebrities it said had brought injunctions.

Super injunctions have prompted most criticism because they prevent anyone from reporting even the existence of the order.

Former RBS chief Goodwin attracted criticism for bringing such an injunction, whose existence was revealed by a politicians using the right of parliamentary privilege, which protects comments made in parliament.

A court relaxed that order on Thursday.

PRIVACY LAW

The Neuberger review did not deal with whether Britain needed an explicit privacy law, which is a question for parliament. Prime Minister David Cameron has said previously he was “a little uneasy” about the way injunctions were being used.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke welcomed the report.

“ contains important recommendations which will ensure that injunctions are only granted where strictly necessary,” he said in a statement. “The government is considering the wider issues around privacy and freedom of expression.”

Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge told a briefing he believed it would be tough for parliament to tackle the issue, saying that the question of a privacy law had come up repeatedly as a question for lawmakers but they had never legislated for it.

He also questioned whether politicians were abusing parliamentary privilege.

“It is, of course, wonderful for you if a Member of Parliament stands up in parliament and says something which in effect means an order of the court on anonymity is breached.

“But you do need to think ... whether it’s a very good idea for our lawmakers to be flouting a court order just because they disagree with a court order or for that matter because they disagree with the law of privacy which parliament has created.”

Additional reporting by Peter Griffiths

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