On the morning after such a dramatic day before, The Guardian sums it all up succinctly: “A complete recasting of social media and internet regulation was signalled by the government as an MP used parliamentary privilege to name Ryan Giggs as the footballer identified on twitter as having brought an injunction to prevent publication of allegations he had an affair with a former reality TV star.”
The breaching of the dam came barely 24 hours after the Sunday Herald became the focus of global attention after revealing the Manchester United player’s identity by publishing his image on its front page and naming him in an inside story. Its purpose was to expose the juxtaposition that prevents a newspaper unmasking a person suspected of being at the centre of a super injunction while the internet remains ungagged.
And during the hours that followed, not only did Lib Den MP, John Hemming, announce Giggs' name in the House of Commons, but Prime Minister, David Cameron, described current privacy laws as “unsustainable”. In addition, a joint parliamentary committee was set up to look at the issue and lawyers for The Sun newspaper failed in a High Court-in-London bid to have the super injunction lifted.
No sooner had Hemming uttered the footballer's name, late yesterday afternoon, but all media outlets felt able to mention the footballer's name.
The Guardian adds: ”The formal announcement of the joint committee was made by Dominic Grieve, the attorney general. The joint committee, due to be report this autumn, was a deliberate effort by a nervous government to turn the future of press freedom and privacy into a cross-party issue, so reducing pressure on [Prime Minister, David] Cameron personally to reach potentially controversial conclusions. Its conclusions could nonetheless have far-reaching ramifications for tabloid newspapers too if the government attempts to reframe privacy laws.”
Meanwhile, media pundit, and former editor of the Independent, Andreas Whittam Smith, writing in today’s Independent, observes: “In the matter of famous people and their rights to privacy, there have been two battles going on. The first is media versus celebrities. The second, which arises from the first, is a fight between MPs and judges as to who should set the rules. Yesterday, it finally became clear, with the naming in Parliament of Ryan Giggs … that the media would shortly get what it wants.”