Britain’s worst kept secret?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
May 25, 2011, 11:13 PM GMT+0

58% of British people knew that Ryan Giggs was the footballer behind the most high-profile injunction case in years prior to MP John Hemming’s unmasking of him under parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons, our poll has found.

Almost two thirds of people think that Hemming was right to break the injunction that had previously prevented English newspapers from reporting details of Giggs’s affair with (former Channel 4 show) Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, the poll also shows.

Prior knowledge

As the news of Hemming’s revelation broke, we asked a representative sample of over 2,000 Brits whether they knew the identity of the footballer behind the scandal

  • 82% said they knew
  • 79% named the footballer correctly as Ryan Giggs
  • But while 28% of those who said they knew admitted that they had only found out on the day of the survey, a substantial 71% of those who said they knew (58% of the entire sample), said they had known about it for longer, everything from ‘a couple of days’ (13%) to ‘longer than a couple of weeks’ (9%) before the name was reported in the mainstream media

The power of Twitter

Brits seem largely unperturbed by Hemming’s unmasking of the player, which, he did, he himself explained, to highlight the absurdity of the case, as ‘with about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter, it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all’.

  • 63% say that Hemming was right to report the footballer’s identity
  • 22% say it was wrong
  • 15% aren’t sure

Incidentally, this is not the first time that Hemming has revealed illegal information in the Commons ‒ in March he told MPs that banker Sir Fred Goodman had taken out an injunction to stop news of a relationship with a colleague from being published ‒ and he has since garnered a reputation among some MPs for, as the Guardian’s Nicholas Watt put it, ‘self-publicity’.

But while Giggs’s name is now in the (very) public domain, the High Court has since ruled that seeking any additional information on the case from anyone else involved, including alleged lover Imogen Thomas, is still prohibited.