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To the rich, with love from the courts

Reading the Guardian Law article on Fred Goodwin's super-injunction this morning has left me with a feeling of irritation with the courts, and glee with John Hemming MP for his use of parliamentary privilege.

Fred Goodwin presided over the near collapse of RBS, was sacked, and still took with him a huge amount of money by way of pension rights etc. Last week, he obtained a super injunction...the subject matter of which has not been made public (but is widely reported in the rumor mill!). The existence of the super-injunction is public thanks to Hemming, who raised it in parliament protected by his parliamentary privilege.

This raises two significant issues; access to justice, and press freedoms. If we presume, for a moment, that the principle of a super injunction isn't repulsive, it could only ever be accessible to the rich. So poor guys like Chris Jefferies, who might benefit from something like this (admittedly his first step would be a normal injunction) cannot access them, yet the recklessly rich like Goodwin can.

Access to justice goes further. Court proceedings in this country are open to the public by default. There are cases where evidence can be heard in private (national security etc) and where whole trials are in private (some family cases). For a court to deviate from this default position, it needs to be able to give a good reason. Embarrassment at...the subject matter of the super-injunction(!)...is not good enough.

The nature of private proceedings like this is that we cannot scrutinise the reasons for holding it in private. Now this has been made public, we have an opportunity to challenge the judiciary on their reasons. This will certainly add more weight against super injunctions during the upcoming review by the Master of the Rolls and his committee on super injunctions.

Lastly, the media should be allowed to report on whatever they feel is in the public interest. Clearly this is subject to the law, but other than that the free media should be free. Cases like this demonstrate the courts getting too big for their boots...i hope that parliament takes control of this issue so that super injunctions are abolished.

Thanks to those who have informed me of some errors in this post...hopefully i have edited these out!