Charon QC interviewed me this afternoon about the “Guardian gag” affair – the attempt by Carter-Ruck solicitors to prevent publication of reports of a parliamentary question by Paul Farrelly MP.
I think some blogger’s references to the Bill of Rights 1689 is over the top – the Bill of Rights protects Parliamentary debates themselves from injunctions, not the reporting of those debates by others. But the case does raise serious questions: Parliamentary privilege means nothing if law protects MPs’ right to speak in the House, but prevents us from knowing what they say. It seems extraordinary, especially in view of section 12 of the Human Rights Act, that a court should have felt it in the public interest to prohibit reporting of a Commons question. I hope this case prompts Parliament to look closely at what further protection is needed in this area – and prompts the courts to take more care in making sure “superinjunctions” – which prevent any discussion of the fact of the injunction or of who obtained it – are granted only where really necessary.