Celebrity publicists defend injunctions as pressure mounts for privacy orders review

Top celebrity PROs have defended the effectiveness of court injunctions despite the threat posed by social media.

Andrew Marr: admitted 2008 injunction
Andrew Marr: admitted 2008 injunction

In recent months a number of high profile individuals are thought to have sought injunctions restricting what can be reported about their private lives, including so called 'super injunctions', which prevent even reporting that such an order exists.

However, speculation over the identity of these individuals has been rife and on Monday it transpired that a Twitter user had set up an account dedicated to exposing celebrities who have supposedly obtained injunctions.

The social media speculation has led to many, such as Bell Pottinger crisis comms expert Alex Woolfall, dismissing the effectiveness of these court orders.

'Taking out a super injunction is like hoping people won't pick up the telephone to each other and gossip. It's time celebrities re-thought how they respond to rumour and allegation,' said Woolfall.

But some of the highest profile names in celebrity PR stand by the tactic. PR Max Clifford told PRWeek: 'It used to be hard work keeping clients out of the papers; now all I do is pick up the phone to a lawyer and within hours my client is protected.'

He said that he had 'three or four super injunctions' currently protecting clients, adding: 'Are super injunctions right? No they're not, but they make my life so much easier.'

Clifford also argued that Twitter does not undermine injunctions because 'social media just does not have the same credibility that mainstream media have'.

Phil Hall, whose agency PHA Media represented John Terry last year, said: 'Just because it is not possible to police Twitter, it doesn't mean that the media at large should be able to publish any story they wish.'

However, Outside Organisation boss Alan Edwards insisted injunctions should always be the 'last, not first resort' in handling a story.

Top entertainment PRO Mark Borkowski acknowledged media injunctions had a place in the PR mix, but blasted 'dick swinging lawyers' who advise on injunctions 'without understanding the implications in the media'.

'Part of the reason these sometimes fail is the legal people ignore PR people. The answer is not injunctions, but good relationships with the media.'

Agency bosses also told PRWeek that they expected politicians to take action against injunctions.

NOTABLE INJUNCTIONS

- May 2011: Andrew Marr, former BBC political editor, admits obtaining an injunction in January 2008 to stop stories of an affair with another reporter.

- April 2011: Media report an unidentified actor has an injunction on allegations he visited prostitutes.

- April 2011: Injunction obtained by Premiership footballer over alleged relationship with Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

- January 2010: Former England football captain John Terry granted a 'super injunction' banning reporting of his alleged extramarital affair with lingerie model Vanessa Perroncel.

STORY IN NUMBERS

£50k: Estimated minimum legal fees to obtain a super injunction

88,289: Followers of Twitter user claiming to out celebrities with injunctions

1988: Human Rights Act on which current injunctions are based

30: Media estimate of number of super injunctions that remain active

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